In the UK only one of the six-hundred and fifty Members of Parliament has a scientific background. Homeopathy and chiropractic are available on the NHS, while effective and proven medicines are shunned. Our newspapers and television constantly report non-effective and dangerous practices as if they were fact. Even when they report on scientific work, scientists are misrepresented and used to score political points which leaves the public believing that there is no use in funding research any more. The UK is turning from a centre of excellence, a candle in the darkness, to a Thunderdome where ever-decreasing funds are fought for by our scientific community.
Enough, says Mark Henderson – the head of communications at the Wellcome Trust, and sets forward a manifesto to reclaim our culture of scientific inquiry and build a government where decisions are made based on evidence rather than fear, uncertainty and doubt.
In order to try to force our MPs to listen, Dave Watts pledged to send a copy of The Geek Manifesto to all MPs if enough volunteers stepped up to share the load and, oh boy, did they? Not only that, Transworld Publishers donated 150 copies to make sure the pledge could be met.
My own copy is now on its way to Julian Huppert (MP for Cambridge), who certainly doesn’t need it but our own MP, Andrew Lansley, was the first to be snapped up. No surprise there. Let’s hope they read and act on it so the country doesn’t fall back into the dark ages.
On the right is the original 76m Lovell Telescope, built in 1957, and has been responsible for keeping the UK at the forefront of space science.
On the left is the smaller (but closer) 25m Mk II telescope which forms part of the e-MERLIN network – a half dozen radio telescopes (including Cambridge’s own Mullard Telescope) connected via fibre optic cable that is sensitive enough to read a number plate on the moon.
Astronomers have discovered a star that’s made from diamond. The 10 billion trillion trillion carat beast has been found in Centarus and makes the Star of Africa, the world’s biggest diamond, look like something from Elizabeth Duke in comparison.