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'Alice' loss would 'waste £25m'

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Lounge' started by gkd_uk, Apr 3, 2008.

  1. gkd_uk

    gkd_uk Moderator Moderator Webmaster

    A world class science project that has already received £25m of public funding may be pulled before it has provided any experimental results.

    The Alice project at the Daresbury labs in Cheshire is the first particle accelerator of its kind in Europe.

    Cuts in science funding mean that it may be binned as early as July, after six years of design and construction.

    UK scientists who had planned to use Alice say they may be forced to do experiments in the US or Russia.

    Taxpayers' money was used to build Alice (Accelerators and Lasers in Combined Experiments) as a machine that would demonstrate accelerator technologies - but scientists believe it could do much more; it should be used to run an experimental programme.

    "Having spent £25m to build it, it would seem crazy not to operate it," said Professor Peter Weightman from the University of Liverpool, who has guaranteed funding to do work that requires a machine such as Alice.

    The machine will cost approximately £3m a year to run.

    "If we can't do experiments here, we will have to go to our sister lab in the States or to a facility in Siberia," added Professor Wendy Flavell from the University of Manchester, who also hoped to use the facility.

    The future of Alice is currently being considered by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), which is looking to plug an £80m deficit in its funding.

    UK Science Minister Ian Pearson, who was visiting the Daresbury laboratory, told BBC News that he was committed to the future of the laboratories but would not step in to guarantee funding for individual projects.

    "It isn't for government to make decisions on what is the best science - it is really for the individual scientific communities to do that," he said.

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