Supplementary written evidence from the
Institute of Physics (APP 17a)|
i) PARTICLE PHYSICS
1. In 9 March 2011 oral evidence session, Gavin
Barwell MP queried the increase in the resource allocated to particle
physics and its justification. The increase in particle physics
"resource" is a displacement from shortfalls in the
allocation of "capital"; in terms of both human capital
and R&D, the particle physics resource has declined sharply
in the past five years. Below we offer a more detailed response
2. Appendix D1 of the STFC Delivery
Plan for 2011-12 to 2014-15 is shown below. In total this shows
an increase of approximately £15 million over the period
2011-12 to 2014-15. This increase covers the "resource"
element of the particle physics budget.
APPENDIX D OF THE STFC DELIVERY PLAN: RESOURCE
BUDGET BY THEME
|Operations (M+O) & exploitation||30.50
|Studentships and fellowships||9.80
|Total Particle Physics||133.23
3. "Operations (M+O) & exploitation" funds the
grants (mostly to universities) that support core technical staff
and PDRAs. This shows a modest increase of £1.4 million (5%)
and given the prevailing inflation rate is likely to result in
a net reduction in PDRAs. The majority of the increase in the
particle physics "resource" is in the CERN subscription;
however, this has to be considered together with the "capital"
line. The CERN subscription will in fact have a net decrease of
approximately £20 million2 over the next five
years after CERN announced expenditure decreases in December 2010
in response to the economic downturn.
4. The Drayson Review recommended that the international subscriptions
including the CERN subscription be ring-fenced in the Science
Budget. The CERN subscription is paid from both the "resource"
line (see Appendix D) and the "capital" line. The significant
reduction in STFC's "capital" budget has meant that
more of the CERN subscription is now being paid from the "resource"
line. In 2010-11 £63.6 million of the £96.5 million
CERN subscription was paid in "resource", however, in
2011-12 this rises to £81.8 million and £89.4 million
in 2012-13. The increase in "resource" spent on the
CERN subscription is due to the significant reductions in "capital"
budget. In 2010-11 £58.5 million of STFC's subscription (£32.9
million to CERN) came from the "capital" budget. This
£58.5 million is reduced to £46.2 million in 2011-12
and becomes £27.6 million in 2014-15. In essence an additional
£30 million of international subscriptions (around 50% of
this in the CERN subscription) in 2014-15 will be paid from "resource"
line compared to 2010-11 to ensure the subscriptions remain "protected"
in light of the significant reductions in capital budgets.
5. Thus, as already mentioned, the noted increase in particle
physics "resource" is simply a displacement from shortfalls
in the "capital" allocation; in terms of both human
capital and funds dedicated to R&D, the particle physics resource
has declined sharply in the past five years. Even before the merger
of PPARC and CCLRC to form STFC, a reduction of 15% in PDRA and
technical staff posts was implemented in 2006. Subsequent cuts
as a result of STFC's two prioritisation exercises have further
reduced the number of PDRA and core technical staff by 33% resulting
in a net reduction between 2005 and 2010 of over 35%. The "flat-cash"
Operations & Exploitation resource allocation, with a 5% inflation
rate, will result in a further 10% cut over the Spending Review
period such that over a 10-year (2005-15) period particle physics,
in terms of human capital, will have been cut by 50%. This is
in contrast with our international peers.
6. In addition to cuts in human capital, R&D budgetsa
significant fraction of which are predicated on "capital"have
been cut significantly. In 2011, particle physics has only three
R&D projects in receipt of significant funding: SuperNEMO;
CERN/LHC-upgrades; and MICE. The funding for these projects beyond
2012 is uncertain and the lack of breadth (and vision) in funded
research is again in stark contrast to our international peers.
7. Our peers continue to invest in the next generation of
particle physics experiments owing to their potential to stimulate
growth and to train the next generation of engineers and physicists
skilled in precision mechanical engineering, digital electronics,
distributed computing and advanced numerical analysis. A review3
of over 150 companies involved in the construction of the LHC
highlighted that 38% of the companies developed new products,
42% increased their international exposure and 44% improved their
technology-based knowledge. The return on the investment in CERN
is very similar to that from investment in ESA, ie that every
£1 invested in a company returns approximately £3 to
the company in terms of new contracts and enhanced capabilities.
The companies engaged with ESA mostly enhanced their market share
in the space industry whilst companies engaged with CERN predominantly
enhanced their market share in sectors outside of particle physics.
In some cases the returns on innovations in particle physics are
rather rapid (eg the world-wide web invented at CERN in 1989)
and some are on a longer timescale; for example, the capacitive
touch-screen now used on all smart phones was developed at CERN4
in the late 1970s. Current developments5 in particle
physics include bespoke accelerators for cancer therapy (using
protons) and micro-electronics as retinal prosthetics to restore
sight to patients suffering from degenerative retinal diseases.
ii) THE PROPOSAL
8. In addition, a question was asked in the oral evidence
session about the Virtual Institute. This is an initiative by
a group of astroparticle physics researchers to secure funding
from STFC to help mitigate the current crisis in astroparticle
physics research, by ensuring a viable level of UK activity in
the following ways:
- Providing core funding to strengthen UK involvement and sustain
UK leadership in astroparticle physics experiments and projects
(focusing on astrophysics with energetic particles, and fundamental
physics with particles of astrophysical origin), and thus retaining
university and industrial expertise and capability in technologies
and techniques for projects (eg optoelectronics, fast electronics
and low-background sensors).
- Providing a focus for the community and a forum for the discussion
of strategy, including the future for astroparticle physics experiments
at the Boulby facility. It is recognised that, particularly in
the current financial climate, a consolidation of UK astroparticle
physics effort in a smaller number of projects is necessary and
a Virtual Institute is considered to be an effective way of achieving
this. The Virtual Institute would actively engage the astroparticle
physics community in seeking out new scientific opportunities.
- Supporting astroparticle physics theory and collaboration
between theorists and experimentalists, with the aim of improving
the discovery and study potential of future instruments and enhancing
the UK impact in the scientific exploitation of those instruments.
It is proposed that the Virtual Institute should provide support
for staff and PDRA time, engineering expertise, prototyping of
hardware and travel, and also hold regular meetings and scientific
workshops. At least part of the Virtual Institute budget should
be allocated dynamically to increase flexibility and to allow
rapid response to new opportunities. Theoretical activities would
be included at the 10% level, significantly strengthening the
existing links between theory and experiment as well as generating
new links between theorists in different areas of astroparticle
9. The level of activity that could be achieved under different
funding scenarios over the next three years is outlined below:
- £0.5 million a yearmaintain a minimum level of
involvement (but eroding UK leadership roles) in perhaps two projects,
which will sustain some capability in core astroparticle physics
disciplines in the UK.
- £1 million a yearsustain leadership roles in the
design phases of major particle astrophysics projects, including
essential exploitation of existing instruments.
- £2 million a yearas above but also allow considerable
prototyping of instrumentation, increased engagement of UK industry,
enabling a major UK contribution to the construction phases of
future astroparticle physics projects.
10. Reaching a funding level of £2 million a year by
around 2014 would provide for capital investment in the construction
of at least one next-generation astroparticle physics project
(eg CTA, LUX-ZEPLIN and/or EURECA), ensuring leadership roles
that are sustainable into the exploitation phases.
11. The astroparticle physics community is awaiting a response
to the proposal for a Virtual Institute from the STFC, which is
expected within the next week or so.
The Institute of Physics
16 March 2011
The UK subscription to CERN is approximately 20% and will reduce
by approximately 27m CHF (£18 million) over the five year