Science (still) is Vital

Just back from the Science is Vital rally in Whitehall, which was attended by an estimated 2000 people. I’m actually pretty tired after a late night in town following yesterday’s Royal Astronomical Society meeting and dinner at the Athenaeum after that, not to mention later events…

Anyway, I’m going to catch up with some quality Columbo time so I’ll just post a few snaps to prove I was there!

Just before the rally

A fellow astronomer, whose name I didn’t catch!

Rather unfortunate pose by Dr Evan Harris; he’s not a Nazi, honest!

Ben Goldacre, complete with anorak…

And here’s me in mid-tweet on the left of the picture, in front of the Treasury building and facing the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (to the right).

Picture taken by Paul Crowther


Many congratulations to those who organized the rally at such short notice, especially Jenny Rohn. The only thing I’d say here is that, although this was a truly inspiring and enjoyable occasion, if the campaign is going to make any lasting difference this must be the start not the finish…


15 Responses to “Science (still) is Vital”

  1. The mystery astronomer is Sam Geen from Oxford. Glad to know that the turnout was higher than expectations.

    • telescoper Says:

      Perhaps higher than expected, but still only a small fraction of the UK’s scientists were in the crowd. Many of the 2000 were non-scientists, in fact.

    • I’m going to make business cards saying “Sam Geen, Mystery Astronomer”

      Also rather unfortunate was Dr Mark Miodownik getting the entire crowd to do a Nazi salute.

  2. Mr Scientist Says:

    Science is vital – of that there can be no doubt.
    Well done for supporting the rally today.

  3. You would appear to have a much better camera on your phone than me!

    The 2000 figure is from the Met who notoriously lowball the attendance at demonstrations, so it was probably more like 4000.

  4. Woken Postdoc Says:

    I noted where the edges of the crowd were relative to building corners. By “google maps,” the occupied area was 2.3e3m^2. I estimate that people in the diffuse fringes were typically a metre apart. The compact core may have been one or two hundred enthusiasts with ~0.1m gaps. Yes, I’d estimate attendance over 2e3. Maybe about 3e3.

    I remember two close helicopter flybys. Dark blue fuselage and some gold symbols. Were they security, press or joyriders? Access to their bird’s-eye photos would enable better counts.


    I worried that some speeches sounded a bit partisan. The people who need persuading are conservatives. It might be helpful to visit their newspapers and individual MPs’ blogs, and contribute clarity to the debates there. The science crisis (cuts and immigration caps) has sparked debate on many sites.

  5. At least the first helicopter that flew over was a Police helicopter (it said so on the side). I think it was the same one that came back again afterwards – I don’t remember thinking the later ones looked any different.

  6. Was doing some frantic pausing and un-pausing to see if I recognised anyone in this video.

    I think YOU might recognise one of the faces at around 39 seconds in. I thought I would just point it out in case you were due some sort of royalty cheque!

  7. off to get a life now…!

  8. […] is Vital – the Video A comment on my earlier post about the Science is Vital rally on 9th October included this video of the […]

  9. […] almost five years since I participated in a rally in London to protest against proposed cuts to the UK science budget. Since then research funding has been heavily […]

  10. Can you point me to any reports that quantify the value of science to the UK economy? Thanks.

  11. […] it’s almost five years since I last participated in a rally in London to protest against proposed cuts to the UK science budget. Since then research funding has been heavily […]

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