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back to article Boffins slashed in big-science budget blunder bloodbath

Unforeseen increases in the running costs of flagship science projects may result in hundreds of top UK physics brains losing their jobs, boffins have warned. The government has reportedly agreed to consider extra funding, but offers no guarantees. The BBC reports today that the funding problems lie within the budget of the …

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Have I got this right...

MP's plan to loose Boffins at a new facility so they dont loose admin at an old one? Would this be Labour MP's? Sounds like there socialist claptrap.

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Go

Boffins slashed in big-science budget blunder bloodbath

It's rather a shame you had to include "slashed" in that sentence, it's quite ruined the fun. After all, a little literary alliteration allows a large allegation...

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Flame

Small change

Let's get this straight - £21m to continue world-leading, boundary-breaking science is just too expensive but £10b (500 times as much) is fine for ID cards which have absolutely no proven merit and are actively opposed on principle by large sections of the populace.

Makes one frikkin sick, does it not?

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Boffin

Why to UK Physicists always get screwed?

The number of people studying Physics at A-level and at University has been dropping off for the last 10-15years and things are just getting worst.

Early to middle of the last century, all of the Worlds top physists were hanging out in the UK: Rutherford, Bohr, Chadwick, and now we've just given up on everything either to the US or Europe.

It's all bloody embarrassing. With the extreme lack of investment, I really do wonder where this once great nation will be in another 50-years from now.

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Flame

Sack the politicians not the boffins!!

If the bent bureaucrats butcher the boffins it'll make my blood boil!

Nu Lab politicians are up to their necks in corruption and are spending hundreds of millions creating jobs for the boys in order to buy votes. Scrap the lot of them and don't skimp on UK science!

If we cut back on research spending now we will be putting the country on an inexorable path to being a backwater economy overshadowed by nations with more vision.

Gordo! Gordo! Gordo! Out! Out! Out!

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@Jason

Ah, but there's still alliteration in the repeated B and S. For full effect, it could have been

"Boffins slashed in big-science budget squeeze bureaucracy snafu"

Which has a certain ring to it, don't you think?

(PS. El Reg don't want another contributor, do they? I'm no IT expert, but I can write a mean alliterative headline. And hey, that's gotta count for something on El Reg.)

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Boffin

Confused

Riiight... so the jobs of boffins across the country are at risk because the Gum'mint don't want the older facilities shut down incase it upsets the poor Mancunian support workers? Sounds sensible... </sarcasm>

Although the Government's point of view I guess it makes sense - dis-satisfied boffins spread across the country has a minor affect on voting figures, hence a group of dis-satisfied support workers *all in one constituency* is more of a threat to their position... which is, of course, all most politicians really care about.

@Jason Togneri - I agree - perhaps "bashed" would have been better? Or "bludgeoned"?

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Happy

Is it me or....?

Could I be forgiven for thinking that a certain mobile phone airtime provider sponsors that particular piece of science boffinry?

Regards

Neil

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Anonymous Coward

@ Jason Togneri

Boffins buggered by big-science budget blunder bloodbath?

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ben

Gamma ray experiment went horribly wrong

When the Boffins see that their jobs are threatened and their only hope is to make a massive discovery they are going to take risks.

Isn't this what happened to Dr. Robert Bruce Banner.

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Flame

Support staff are also boffins

The 'support staff' oop nooorth are not call-centre workers, you know. They're the ones doing the same thing on the SRS (the northern facility) as on DIAMOND (the southern facility). And the ones up north (me included) are the ones that thought up DIAMOND in the first place, so it's a bit rich sacking the ones with the good ideas, isn't it! Calling us 'support staff' is like calling the ones down south 'builders', 'cos what they did is build DIAMOND....

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Anonymous Coward

Mancunian job losses

Daresbury (the facility near Manchester which Diamond will supercede) is going to close *anyway*, those jobs on those constituencies are going to be lost *anyway*. This isn't even about saving those jobs, it's about saving them until *after the next election*!

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Dan

STFC

If only they could win a few away games.

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Go

Bruce Banner..

no no, Bruce Banner was caught in the blast of the experimental gamma bomb that he'd designed for the US Army, when he went back to rescue teenager Rick Jones who'd driven onto the test range in a jeep!

You're thinking of Hank Pym/Giant Man.

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Budget debacle brain drain...

I have friends, proper boffins, whom have fled the UK for greener pastures on the continent. There's something fundamentally wrong with spending all that money and effort on the schools facilities that produce top scientists, only to have them leave and do science for other countries because there's no work at home.

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War or Science?

You can't afford both. Obviously, war is going to benefit far more people* than science, so science will simply have to deal with it.

* - Keeping in mind that "people" consist entirely of stockholders in large MOD suppliers' firms, and wealthy investors in military equipment manufacturing and transport.

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Joke

In Soviet Britain....

Doughnuts eat boffins...

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Unhappy

Missing the point

The Diamond synchrotron is mostly going to be used by biological and materials science researchers, not physicists or astronomers -- but those are the specialities whose budget is being dipped into to pay for the project. Ditto the other "big science" cost overruns.

What this means is: the physics/astro budget is being used to cross-subsidize other fields, in a manner that will result in 25% funding cuts to physics and astronomy over 3 years, at a time when physics in the UK is *already* in big trouble.

If this isn't fixed, then an entire generation of high energy physics specialists are going to be out of a job -- and once lost, it's very hard to rebuild that kind of academy. (Look at what happened in the USA after the Superconducting Supercollider got axed in the early 1990s ... then consider that the USA still had a whole bunch of other high-energy physics projects and didn't have a major problem recruiting and educating new physicists.)

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Unhappy

The downward spiral continues

It's precisely this kind of thing that lead me and many other fellow Ph.D graduates to quit academia and head to the city where our talents are actually appreciated and rewarded.

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Coat

So what do they really need now?

Are they looking for some kind of DIUS ex machina to bail them out then?

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Coat

Seems fitting somehow

Labour ministers won't properly fund science that can investigate the spin states of many materials....

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Happy

Relocate already !!

I worked for the boffins, (as an engineer), for three years in the late ninties and there was the same problem with the Manchester Lab then as there is now. I believe they have a very under powered version of the Diamond synchrotron light source there and it was kept open then due to fears of "local" job losses in the science fields, (I think they also had some ancient super computers). Seems to me that the northerners would be more than happy to move down to pretty Didcot/Chilton.

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This is what's being cut...

Hot off the press, here's what's being slashed/buggered...

http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/32163

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Alert

ah but remember...

Nu Lab dont want a clever population... they want to stay in power - just look at the dumbing down of everything... so

1) We will have the best telephone call centre staff in the world, cos its the only thing we will be able to do.

2) Last one out please turn off the lights....

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Ben
Unhappy

One of the many casualties...

One of the many casualties of the funding crisis in UK science is identified all too clearly in the Delivery Plan just released by STFC, available at http://www.scitech.ac.uk/resources/pdf/delplan_07.pdf.

To quote: “We will cease investment in the International Linear Collider. We do not see a practicable path towards the realisation of this facility as currently conceived on a reasonable timescale.”

The UK’s scientists and engineers have made significant contributions to the design of this machine, and have been welcome partners in the international drive to develop the new technologies required.

STFC’s views are not shared across the wider international community. Institutions worldwide are conducting research, guided by the recent Reference Design Report released by the ILC Global Design Effort, with a view to building the accelerator. World-class institutes such as Fermilab in the US have been preparing bids to host the machine.

Large collaborations such as this have a wealth of benefits beyond their primary goal of advancing basic science. They strengthen international cooperation, drive technological development and, through ties with industry, help economies. They serve to enthuse the next generation of potential scientists and engineers.

Many ties with foreign institutions will be lost as a result of this decision. UK researchers, many of whom have great experience, will be forced to move abroad if they wish to continue their work. None of these facts bode well for the future of the UK science.

I have focused on the ILC, but you can expect to hear similar stories from across the scientific disciplines.

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Happy

Yes, Minister

o

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Anonymous Coward

Merry Christmas

"It's precisely this kind of thing that lead me and many other fellow Ph.D graduates to quit academia and head to the city where our talents are actually appreciated and rewarded."

Yes and probably myself and a lot of colleagues will leave for the city even if we survive this crisis. If they will still take us after umpteen postdocs. If we dont take part in the linear collider where is the future for us young people after the LHC finishes?

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Coat

Next up:

Beleaguered boffins beg Big Brother for bonus bucks before budget blowout blindsides boson breakthrough?

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Black Helicopters

More lay offs may be comming soon....

...because some other boffins in Scotland figured out how to create a table-top synchrotron for the bargain prize of only a few million (!) dollars for a high powered laser.

See this newscientist.com article:

http://technology.newscientist.com/article/dn13032-desktop-synchrotron-aims-to-freeze-molecular-action.html

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Give and take?

I'm getting confused.

At one end we are starting to have a big push in science education on schools.

At the other end we are seeing scientists - sorry - boffins getting told they aren't wanted.

Why should any child want to excel in science if there's no prospect of a proper boffin job after years of study?

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Boffins in Blighty

What these boffin chappies in blighty need are `innovative skills´ after all, that's the name of the bunch with the money.

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Jobs Halo

They're in the wrong science class.

Why don't they just become climate scientists and promote more global warming catastrophes. There's no need to do any scientific work. Just apply the following:

Oh my god! A hot summer = global warming.

Oh my god! A rainy summer = global warming.

Oh my god! More rain today than there was this time last year = global warming.

Oh my god! Less rain today than there was this time last year = global warming.

etc,.

Then write a computer program to show the ice melting over the next 20 years, et voila! Money for nothing and another excuse to tax us until we're dead.

PS. It's now a religion so that's why god is so involved.

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Re: Have I got this right...

"MP's plan to loose Boffins at a new facility so they dont loose admin at an old one?"

No, you have it very, very wrong.

The old facility at Daresbury is where the new 'Diamond' facility should have been built, but politics (an alliance of the Wellcome Trust and the French Government) made it go South. Maybe it wouldn't have overrun its budgets if it had 'stayed' 'up North'.

Paul, quit whinging is such a horrible, shameful, patronising way.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could have both facilities? Wouldn't it be nice if a few bob could be diverted from the London Olympics to promote science across the UK?

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Unhappy

Well I'm screwed

I am currently doing my mPhys project on the International Linear Collider, which has just got the chop... Feels kind of pointless continuing working now...

Since the UK has no real export commodities apart from knowledge, it seems pretty stupid to cut (and in real terms it is being cut, not increased) science funding.

I just feel sorry for everyone who has already invested so much time and effort into these important and valuable projects. What a waste.

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Ben
Unhappy

I really shouldn't

read these types of articles when writing up its bad enough trying to remain disciplined to get it finished, take away job prospects and what the point :(.

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Unhappy

The Call Centre Genius Alliance

"Nu Lab dont want a clever population... they want to stay in power - just look at the dumbing down of everything... so

1) We will have the best telephone call centre staff in the world, cos its the only thing we will be able to do."

Well, my team at a national telco ISP is

2* MEng Mechanical engineers

2* MEng Civil Engineers

A EngD- Electrical Engineer

A MSc Chemsitry (me)

4* BSc Biochemistry

A BSc in Computer Science (who's not "allowed" to use his knowledge as it breaks the rules set by the above ISP)

And a fully trained Doctor (of medicine)

As the Loonies in charge say we need Scientists/ Engineers/ Doctors.but this is the only jobs we can get.

NZ here I come...

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Alert

yes it confuses me as well

We're going to end up with facilities and few users. If you read the STFC "delivery plan" which is code for cuts and redundancies, then it looks like the cuts in university grants will be 25-30%. the reality is that its going to be alot worse than that:

1) grant cycle is 3 years, therefore at this time 2/3 of the grant purse is already committed - you dont have to be a boffin to work out what that means to grants just submitted into the system this year.

2) given the lack of funding the council has a list of strategic priorities (actually in astronomy they only listed galaxy formation and large scale structure), presumably if you are working in something else (eg exoplanet detection) you might as well jump on a plane to the USA. This will def. have an affect on undergraduate student recruitment.

Its also clear from the plan that there is MUCH worse to come.

Pen pushers slaughter UK boffins.... Our facities will be shrines to a time when we had people to use them. Its a sad day for UK physics and especially UK astronomy.

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Where is all the money going in the UK?

No money for the boffins, no money for the engineering projects, not enough money for the NHS, or schools.

Where is all your money? You must all have bloody good tax dodges!

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Anonymous Coward

Toaster

Do synchrotrons make good toast?

Time to toast a politician.

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Boffin

http://europa.eu/epso/index_en.htm

this is where UK scientists and engineers can sign-up for the epso (european personnel selection office) open tests/competitions and qualify for a Reserve List from whence nearly all scientific posts are recruited. Salary is approximately between £50k to £150k pa depending on experience. I have a HNC in Telecomms Engineering and I'm currently on about £72,000 net-of-all-taxes salary, (is that about £120k gross?)

Why are maths and physics studies decreasing in the UK?, the rewards - if you look to the 500million people EU market rather than quaint old blighty - are better than being a BigBrother contestant, and there's a slightly higher chance of success!

plus most of our UK workers - who joined in the 1970's - are starting to retire so there is regular, if bursty and stealthy, recruitment.

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@ Iglethal

"Where is all your money? You must all have bloody good tax dodges!"

It's all gone writing off mortgages for Americans with bad credit.

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Re: STFC

There's only one STFC, one STFC.... there's only one STFC

Or, there will be, soon:-(

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mis-read

i thought this story was about some experiment going wrong and killing a load of people... surely i'm not the only one who saw this and thought 'cool' ?

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@ T. O'Hara

dont be a muppet - the ice caps *are* melting. It *is* due to our environmentally destructive power production methods - and needs to be curbed *now* to prevent global catastrophe. your head in the sand attitude is the reason governments seem to think a 3% cut in carbon emissions by 2012 is unreasonable and un-achievable. the reality is it's nowhere near enough. especially with the escalation of power needs in china and india where they are burning coal for christ's sake!

So yes, rather then spending billions on seeing what happens when you collide sub-atomic particles a near light-speeds to produce more sub-atomic particles - (We've been doing the particle accelerator thing for years now, and while its very interesting it is clear that nothing of any great practical use will come from it in the near future) would we not be better off researching serious alternative cheap energy production methods with some out-of-the-box thinking?

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Thumb Up

What's the problem? Just offshore it.

Short of money? There's a simple answer, just relocate all the boffinry to another country where boffins are cheaper.

This strategy has already saved a fortune and worked brilliantly in the IT industry, where legions of satisfied customers are enjoying even more customer service than ever before - at a fraction of the price.

Am I allowed to claim credit for coining the new verb "to offshore"? If not, never mind, one genius idea per day is quite enough.

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Anonymous Coward

Practical uses

"We've been doing the particle accelerator thing for years now, and while its very interesting it is clear that nothing of any great practical use will come from it in the near future"

rubbish. There are numerous technologies currently in use that were originally developed for cutting edge particle physics research and were not intendend to have practical applications. You are using one of them now by even having this debate here.

In 30 years there will also be lots of spin off technologies in use that noone anticipated (though nowadays physicsits are better at recognising when they can exploit something as a spin off IMO).

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Happy

Bruce Banner

I think he was mixing up the TV show with the Comic Book story lol ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Flipping Gov

Frankly, I'm a undergrad, and if this is what's going to happen then I'm buggering off to foreign shores to do a research career! It's effing hopeless.

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Boffin

Not like CERN

"So yes, rather then spending billions on seeing what happens when you collide sub-atomic particles a near light-speeds to produce more sub-atomic particles - (We've been doing the particle accelerator thing for years now, and while its very interesting it is clear that nothing of any great practical use will come from it in the near future) would we not be better off researching serious alternative cheap energy production methods with some out-of-the-box thinking?"

This is important - the Diamond particle accelerator is NOT about smashing particles together and making new particles, it's a facilty where scientists from a whole host of different disciplines come to carry out research. Synchrotrons like Diamond have been used to create new drugs, to study GMR (the technology underpinning iPods), and to study how pollutants move through the environment - real, tangible applications. It's not even the spin-offs that might result from technological developments, these machines already the result of that.

Diamond and the SRS up in Daresbury are not one-trick ponies for a small community of particle physicists, they are multi-purpose facilites, used by chemists, biologists, engineers - and people looking for alternative energy production methods as well as ways to minimise humanities environmental impact.

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Joke

Political suicide?

You'd have thought that having found that pissing off a load of people who might want to build an atomic bomb has turned out to cause a shitload of trouble, they'd have thought twice before pissing off a load of people who actually *can* build one......

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