A funding crisis at one of the UK’s leading research councils has forced the country to pull out of plans for the International Linear Collider (ILC). The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) says in a report published today that it does not see “a practicable path towards the realization of this facility as currently conceived on a reasonable timescale”. The report also says that the UK will stop investing in high-energy gamma-ray astronomy, withdraw from the Gemini telescopes, and cease all support for ground-based solar-terrestrial physics facilities…
“This is one whole great big bombshell,” says particle physicist John Dainton from the Cockcroft Institute at Liverpool University in the UK, which is involved in planning the ILC. “How can administrators in government departments and the STFC get this so wrong? There must be a reason and incompetence comes to mind. We are furious. You are killing off the exploitation of years of investment.”
Andrew also notes that they will be:
“revisiting the on-going level of investment” in gravitational wave detection, dark matter detection, the Clover CMB experiment and the UKIRT telescope. The UK will pull out of the Isaac Newton Group of telescopes.
Terrible news for particle physics, astrophysics, and solar physics. The ILC is certainly on shaky ground; if countries start dropping out, the LHC might very well be the last particle accelerator at the energy frontier built in our lifetimes.