Friday, April 11, 2008

Superquango blues

From this side of the Atlantic the funding problems of British Astronomy seem curiously and safely abstract, rather than being the brutal train wreck they actually are. Two recent BBC articles are worth reading: "'Black hole' in UK science funding" by Susan Watts (09 April 2008) and "Astronomers 'must make own case'" by Paul Rincon (04 April 2008). The take home message from the leaders of the STFC? "Don't point out that we've messed things up or the Government will take even more money away." What was that Bill Clinton said about the politics of fear?

Trivia: The first article mentions that STFC is a superquango - does this word, or its parent word quango, even exist in the US? Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation.

Its been a hectic few months, with Hubble and Chandra proposal deadlines in March, the Constellation-X FST meeting in February, and next week's Irvine "Galaxy Formation and Evolution and Revealed by Cosmic Gas" conference to prepare for.

But interesting science has been happening all the while, which I hope to get around to mentioning (however briefly) soon.

In the mean time a question: what does the image of coffee cups represent?