Incense and Senility

because life is stranger than fiction

Open questions in science
Stewie victory
rocketeddy
Some time ago, I wanted to do a PhD, but I never did. I couldn't seem to find that one topic that would truly inspire me, that would capture my attention for at least three years, and possibly up to seven. I knew that if I chose the wrong subject, or even the wrong institute, the odds of my completing it would be drastically reduced. I discovered recently the number of doctoral students who don't finish is staggering. More than half of computer and information sciences doctoral candidates drop out, for example.

I like to look at the big picture, at lots of different things. Perhaps that's the problem. Perhaps there isn't a single topic that would grab me in that way for long enough. But how can I be sure?

Anybody who knows me, or has read this blog for that matter, will know that science communication is important to me. It's not enough that I know or understand something, I want to help others to understand it too. In my not so humble opinion, there's no point in making the biggest scientific discovery in history, if you don't tell anybody you've done it. Communication is important.

It occurred to me about a year ago, that these things are connected. Indeed, I realised there are LOTS of problems which are connected. Do the public trust scientists? I don't think they do, as a general rule, and why should they? Only a fool would trust somebody when they don't know what said person is doing, and the public tends to only hear about science in the past tense. That is not a good thing.

So I decided to do something about it. I created a new website, and a company to run it. I created a team of people to help make it a reality, and TWDK was born. The idea is simple: to explain all the open questions of science, in simple language. But there's a catch, of course. There's a LOT of open questions, from Why Bother with Biofuels? to Why do we yawn? So many questions, in fact, that even with a team we need a lot of time (and some money) to make it happen. So those links, as you may have guessed, are to example articles, while we develop the main site.

If you'd like to know more, I won't post much here. But the TWDK blog features updates on the company's progress as well as science posts, so you should be able to find everything you want to know over there :)

UK Space Conference 2011
Stewie victory
rocketeddy
The UK now has it's own shiny new space agency, and they're about to hold their first conference. There were already several space conferences in the UK each year, but now the UKSA is hosting this one some people expect it will absorb some of the others.

The lineup of speakers for the first UK Space Conference is looking very impressive indeed. With the gracious permission of @IntellectUK, here it is (I think I got everybody!), grouped by affiliation but otherwise in no particular order:

Agencies/Government
UK Space Agency
- David Williams, Chief Executive
- Emma Lord, Director of Policy and Operations
- Dr David Parker, Director of Technology and Scientific Programmes
- Ann Sta, Director of Growth (Applications and EU Programmes)
- Chris Castelli, Head of the Space Science Group
- Sue Horne, Space Exploration Programme Manager
- Ruth Boumphrey, Head of Earth Observation
- Jeremy Curtis, Head of Education

European Space Agency
- Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General
- Alan Brunstrom, Applications Ambassador
- Steve Stavrinidis, Head of Mechanical Engineering Department
- Prof Mark McCaughrean, Head of Research & Scientific Support Department
- Dr Steven Briggs, Head of Programme Planning and Coordination Service, Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes
- Magali Vaissiere,

UK Government/Military
- Dr Philip Lee MP, Executive Vice Chair (Education, Skills & Inspiration) of Parliamentary Space Committee
- Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science
- Nick Stansfield, Office for Security & Counter Terrorism
- Prof Sir Adrian Smith, BIS Director General Knowledge and Innovation
- Wg Cdr Gerry Doyle, SO1 Air 2, Development Concepts and Doctrine Centre
- Wg Cdr Mark Presley, National Space Security Policy Lead

European Commission
- Paul Weissenberg, Deputy Director General

Technology Strategy Board
- Iain Gray, Chief Executive
- Michael Lawrence, Head of Special Projects
- Tim Just, Lead Technologist (Satellite Navigation)
- Robert Lowson, UK National Contact Point for FP7 Space

National Nuclear Laboratory
- Tom Rice, Business Development Manager

International Space Innovation Centre
- Barbara Ghinelli, Executive Chair
- Mark Hampson, Non Executive Director
- Ian Raper, Earth Observation Hub Manager

National Centre for Earth Observation
- Andy Shaw, Director

BBC
- Johnathon Amos, Science Correspondent
- Richard Hollingham, Science Journalist
- Reg Turnill (retired)


Industry
Logica
- Andy Green, CEO
- Gordon Black, Space Security Manager
- John Davey, Facility Manager ISIC SRU
- Stuart Martin,
- Nick Shave,

QinetiQ
- Chris Saunders, Senior Systems Engineer
- Dr Matthew Angling, Fellow
- Dr Rob Scott
- Steve Austin

Astrium
- Colin Paynter, CEO
- Miranda Mills, UK National Director for Earth Observation, Navigation and Science
- Richard Peckham, Business Development Director UK
- Peter Aspden, UK Marketing Manager for Telecommunications Satellites
- Andrew Stroomer, UK Managing Director (Astrium GEO-Information Services)
- Ronan Wall, Programme Manager
- Adam Taylor, Principal Engineer
- Ian Encke, Business Development (Astrium Satellites)
- Nick Fishwick, Spacecraft Thermal Engineer
- David Mathews

SSTL
- Prof Sir Martin Sweeting OBE, Executive Chairman
- Matt Perkins, Managing Director
- Richard Brook, Consultant

VEGA Space
- Dr Derek Greer, Chief Operating Officer
- Ed Trollope, Systems Engineer

SEA
- Dr Chris Chaloner

Reaction Engines
- Alan Bond, Managing Director
- Mark Hempsell, Future Programmes Director

Argans
- Dr Samantha Lavender, Managing Director

Arquiva
- Mike Walsh, Technology Specialist

Avanti Communications Group
- Sean Watherston, Head of Investor Relations and Corporate Finance
- Graham Peters

Clyde Space
- Craig Clark, CEO
- Steve Greenland, UKube-1 Technical Lead

Google
- Zahaan Bharmal, Head of Marketing Operations (Europe, Middle East and Africa)

Octo Telematics
- Andrea Natali, Head of Sales UK

COM DEV Europe
- Rob Goldsmith, Business Development Director

Inmarsat
- Rupert Pearce, Senior Vice President
- Pat McDougal, VP of Strategy and Business Development
- Eyal Trachtman, Head of New Programmes

FTI Consulting
- Vicky Pryce, Managing Director

Virgin Galactic
- George Whitesides, CEO and President

Paradigm Services
- Rick Greenwood, Technical Director

Airborne Engineering Limited
- James Macfarlane, Managing Director

Bristol Spaceplanes
- Dave Ashford, Director

Intellect
- John Higgins CBE, Director General

Newlands Ventures
- Mike Dillon, Managing Director

IACE
- Iya Whiteley, Space Psychologist

Steepest Ascent
- James Bowman, Aerospace and Defence Business Development

Fell Systems
- Dr David Robson, Director


Academia
University of Birmingham
- Prof Mike Cruise

Cranfield University
- Adrien Doucet, Research Student
- Toivo Hartikainen, Student
- Radim Badsi, Student
- Baptiste Soyer, Student

University of Strathclyde
- Colin McInnes, Director of Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory
- Dr Malcolm Macdonald, Associate Director of Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory
- Alison Gibbings, PhD student

Imperial College
- Prof. David Southwood, Professor of Physics
- Sir Keith O'Nions, Rector
- Zoe Versey, Student

Open University
- Prof Andrew Holland, Director of the CEI
- Prof John Zarnecki, Professor of Space Science
- Nancy Hine, Student
- Charles Cockell,

University of Bath
- Talini Pinto Jayawardena, Research Student

University of Leicester
- Prof Heiko Balzer, Head of Department of Geography

University of Southampton
- Prof Antony Musker,
- Ben Schwarz,
- Adam White,
- Craig Pitcher, Student
- Ulrich Walach, Student

Surrey Space Centre
- Dr Chris Bridges, Research Fellow

University College, London
- Prof. Mark Maslin, Head of the Department of Geography
- Dale Potts,Postgraduate Student
- Roger Duthie, Postgraduate Student
- Phil Guttridge, Head of Electronic Engineering
- Barry Hancock,
- Prof Alan Smith, Centre for Space Medicine

University of Warwick
- Dr William E Crofts,

Kings College, London
- Dr David Green,

BirkBeck College
- Ian Crawford, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Plymouth Marine Laboratory
- Dr Bob Brewin, Research Scientist

UKSEDS
- Graeme Taylor, Chair
- Michael Johnson, Director of Space Projects

Science Museum
- Doug Millard, Senior Curator ICT & Space Technology

British Interplanetary Society
- Dr John Becklake, Historian



I'm very happy to see quite a few names I recognise in there, along with some very seriously impressive titles!
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Identity
Stewie victory
rocketeddy
Identity is a funny thing, and here I mean the way in which we think of ourselves; who we feel we identify as, or with. Let's say you meet a bunch of people in the pub, and ask them where they're from. One person says "London", and another says "Russia". Perhaps a third says "up North" or "down South" depending on where the pub is. My belief is that the person who said "London" would give the same answer whether you were in London or Liverpool or anywhere else in the UK, but if they happened to move abroad they may be inclined to answer "England" or "Britain" instead.

A friend sent me a link to an article in the Telegraph the other day: does living abroad turn us more British?. The basic premise is that living abroad makes us more proud of our origins, and even act more stereotypically. I think there's a strong argument here and one I tend to agree with, but that's another topic... the article is just what got me thinking about my 'identity'.

When I was at uni, I'd answer "Liverpool". Here in Cologne I would answer "English" or "British", but if I visit friends in London I'd answer "Liverpool" again. So clearly, I feel some kind of hierarchy of identity, where I'm a Brit to foreigners but a scouser to my countrymen.

Now here's the rub.

I am an immigrant. I say this clearly, because I am very much aware that I do not match the stereotypical image most people conjure up when they hear the word 'immigrants'. I'm white, I was born in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, I don't collect unemployment or other benefits, I'm not here illegally yet I don't need a VISA to live or work where I do and I'm not employed in manual or unskilled labour. I'm British... and an immigrant in Germany. A former neighbour once remarked that they don't go to a certain place because "there are too many foreigners there". When my girlfriend and I pointed out that we, too, are foreigners, they said "Oh we don't mean YOU, you're all right, we mean... OTHER foreigners". Of course, I know what they meant, even if they didn't want to say it. They were talking about the local Turkish community, many of whom are German citizens and many of whom were born right here in Germany making them officially a lot less 'foreign' than I am. But it's sadly not hard find somebody prejudiced against them, in much the same way as Pakistanis or Eastern Europeans might encounter in England.

I really like the film "This is England". I don't like racism. I found the film did a really excellent job of portraying the desperation felt in the North, and the way in which people with very strong Nationalist tendencies were unhappy we were fighting for the Falklands - a fact which on the surface appears quite contradictory. It portrays and explains the attraction people felt towards groups such as the National Front well, without (imho) actually condoning or glorifying such groups. If anything, I felt it made a very good case against them, whilst demonstrating their rise in popularity was to be expected under the circumstances.

There's a question in that film, put to a 'non-white' person born in England: "Do you consider yourself English?" This is a question you could easily put to somebody born in Britain with any family heritage from outside the UK, be it French or Chinese or anything else. The person asking the question demonstrably wanted to hear the answer "English", as a demonstration of their integration into the community in which they now live.

So... what would my answer be? Do I consider myself, or my son (who was born in Germany) to be German? The answer is a resounding no. So I (still) consider myself British right? Well, yes and no. I do consider myself British, but I also have to accept that my perceptions have been broadened. By living 'abroad', my eyes have been opened to a lot of the prejudices and preconceptions we tend to have in the UK, and how silly we can sometimes be when it comes to the idea of 'foreigners'. As an immigrant, I find it easier to empathise with other immigrants while at the same time seeing such double standards and generalizations as my former neighbours'. In particular, I appreciate and enjoy the freedoms afforded to me in the EU and the cultural similarities between Britain and our neighbours in Europe.

So what does that make me? I guess in many ways, I think of myself as "European" now. I don't like to use that word, because in the UK we use it to refer to anybody from mainland Europe - i.e. somebody that isn't British. We exclude ourselves from Europe, in our stand-offish and arrogant manner, which does nothing good for our image as a nation. You can imagine that if I was standing for political office, rivals would happily jump on such a statement as "he allies himself closer to France and Germany than with Britain!" which is blatantly untrue - I do still regard myself as very much British, and English, and a scouser. I am immensely proud of all three of these descriptions, and consider them accurate. I do not renounce my heritage, and positively revel in it. Living 'abroad' I feel I sometimes become the very caricature of an Englishman. But in the absence of a better word, or at least one I can think of right now, it's what I shall use. I am an EU citizen, an inhabitant of Europe. I am a European.

Boycott the UK census because of the war in Iraq ... what?
gun
rocketeddy
I just encountered a rather curious article in the Financial Times. I'd post a link, but FT.com articles are only available to registered users and subscribers and I don't want to link to something behind a paywall. In short, it's about somebody objecting to the upcoming recent UK census on the grounds that the automated reading of the census forms is to be done by Lockheed Martin and...

“Lockheed Martin played a major role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan”

Funnily enough, I can think of somebody else that played a major role in those wars - the UK government. Why would a company's involvement in a war be grounds to boycott the census ordered by a government responsible for that war, if the government itself is not? I just don't see the logic.

If you don't like the idea of a defence company making money from something related to you, then I can understand your squeamishness. The idea of making a profit from killing people is certainly controversial, though personally I consider the defence industry to be a necessity for the protection of my family, friends and community. Selling those arms to other nations that may potentially use them against my family, friends and community is another question entirely, but I won't sidetrack myself into that right now!

On the other hand, I was interested to find LM won such a contract. Back at uni, we had multiple-choice assignments that were marked autonomously ... and I suspect a lot of academic stuff is automated these days. I never really wondered about who made those machines, until now. Somehow, I had expected it to be a company which specialises in making fax machines, photocopiers or scanners.

Riding a laserbeam into space
rocketscience
rocketeddy
Back when I was 17, I went through the process of applying for university courses. I knew I wanted to study Physics with a specialization in a space related field, but at the time it wasn't really clear to me what the difference between "astrophysics" and "space science/technology" was. Somebody, and I confess I have sadly forgotten who, explained it to me like this:
"Think about the Hubble Space Telescope. The pictures that it takes are astrophysics. Putting it into orbit is space science."
And just like that, I was sold.

So I went to visit various universities, and I was ultimately torn between Salford and Leicester.

Salford was one of the first universities I visited, and was very excited by what I saw. Unfortunately most of the other universities didn't live up to their standard. Everything about my experience at Salford was amazing, and I was particularly impressed by one gentleman, who if my memory serves me correctly was retired but still had use of a lab at the department, which he used for all kinds of laser demonstrations. He was on a bit of a crusade to demonstrate that lasers could be used in schools (pre-uni) to help get kids excited and interested in physics - cheaply and safely. He had some wonderful little toys, and explained to me how he could listen to what was happening in a room by shining a laser at the window. It saddens me to note that Salford no longer appears to offer a specialization in spacey subjects, from what I see on their website.

However, I didn't choose Salford. I chose Leicester. I don't really remember all the reasons why, but I think it was more the city that won than an impression of the university itself. Or maybe it was the large rocket in the physics dept foyer that swung it, or perhaps the course content itself. I honestly don't recall.

Many years later, I was studying spacecraft engineering at Cranfield University where my group project was all about one of the biggest problems we face in the space industry today - space debris.

Space debris is something I've mentioned before though apparently not in much detail. Space debris is a serious threat to our current model of access to space. Every time we launch a spacecraft, tiny bits of material (from all kinds of sources like explosive bolts, flecks of paint etc) join those already in orbit. These are added to by "dead satellites", failed launches, anti-satellite weapons tests (grr) and so on. Many of these objects will not come down for a very long time, and pose a very real threat to spacecraft or astronauts. Ultimately, we have to do something about it or the debris cloud will become so dense that collisions would become common. For a satellite or astronaut, such a collision is likely to be fatal. If you're interested there's a good article on wikipedia.

So methods of safely de-orbiting satellites without producing more debris and without significantly reducing the lifetime of the satellite for economic reasons (as in the case of my project) are being looked into by many people. Methods of reducing the "junk" that's already up there are also commonly looked at, but so far nobody has come up with anything that the industry or agencies have wanted to implement.

So why this little trip down memory lane, complete with detours? The thing is, although lasers are very common in sci-fi there isn't a particularly large overlap between traditional "rocket science" and lasers- with the possible exception of that ogre of the cold war SDI. However, on Friday I came across an article talking about a study which would link space launches to lasers - and this morning I came across a paper linking lasers with space debris. It's a bit of a space laser geek fest.

First up was the beaming rockets into space article on the astrobiology magazine site. Yes, that's right, an article about launcher technology on an astrobiology site. I didn't ask why, I just read it. It talks about a study which is being conducted right now so we can't say anything about its conclusions, but what the study is looking at is really interesting. If you're anything like me, anyway.

The study is "to examine the possibility of using beamed energy propulsion for space launches". I recommend reading the article for details (I won't repeat them all here) but to summarize it would mean assembling a large array of "a few hundred" very powerful lasers, with a combined output of about 100 megawatts.

Although interesting, this all struck me as being a little bit too ambitious. Alternative launch concepts are typically forced to be ambitious by the mere nature of what they're trying to achieve, but there are just so many problems to overcome with such a proposal that I seriously doubt it could be realized ... yet. Technology is certainly moving in the direction of making this an option, so it's worth keeping an eye on it (though you should never look directly at a laser beam).

I was rather disappointed to read this though: "The system would make most economic sense if it was used for at least a few hundred launches a year." I say disappointed, because it strikes me whoever wrote it was being a bit lazy. My problem with this statement is that I feel it tries to make the economic argument for the idea sound plausible, in the same way newspapers misuse statistics to lead their readers to form whatever opinion they want them to have. What does "a few hundred launches a year" mean? In the interests of measuring reliability of the various launch systems available, Space Launch Report compiled a list of all the launches of 2009. They also provide stats by decade.

From this you can see the entire global market for space launches is currently around 70 launches per year, and it's going down. It peaked in the 70's, for obvious and less obvious reasons, at about 130 per year. So this is effectively stating that in order for such a system to be worth making, it would have to not only capture the entire global market but also increase the global demand for launches by a factor of at least 3 simultaneously, against the current trends.

The second paper, which happens to have been co-authored by a guy who was a year or two ahead of me at Leicester, strikes me as a lot more reasonable. As I mentioned above, it looks at space debris.

The idea is to use a laser in the same way as the launch system, to provide a thrust on an object by "beaming power" at it. But instead of launching an object from the ground, the idea is to simply accelerate an object that's already in orbit - in other words, changing the course of a piece of debris to avoid a collision. The methodology is very similar, and I can't help wondering if it will even feature in the final NASA study. In fact, I rather hope it will. While the launch system described above was talking about using 100,000kW of laser power, this paper talks about using just 10kW - in other words, a single laser. Although it still shares many of the other difficulties involved in such a system (such as accurate targeting), the laser segment seems very reasonable indeed.

In case of emergency
BloodMoon
rocketeddy
I have one of those standard "In case of emergency" posters in my office. You know the sort, with phone numbers for first aid, security, etc. I just noticed it reads
"Other specialists for hazardous incident, genetic engineering, radiation, X-ray or laser protection are also reachable at main entrance."

umm. I need to worry about somebody re-engineering my DNA here? Shit.

For the fallen
BloodMoon
rocketeddy
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
-- Laurence Binyon

Science is Vital, not Useless
Spaceship Broken
rocketeddy
Last week, a large body of scientists held a protest in London against the proposed cuts to the UK science budget. Two of them were interviewed by the BBC, which you can see here. (not sure I can embed it directly, sorry!)

There were two things the BBC reporter said that particularly struck me when I watched it.

"Even a cursory search of the internet shows up journals and articles talking about why do Woodpeckers get headaches...that is useless research, surely?"
I'm not familiar with that research directly, but I am familiar with the media's attacks on it. It's easy to dismiss something you don't understand as useless. But the point of science is to discover things we don't know, or to improve our understanding of something. In the case of headaches (in humans), we actually know very little about them, so if researching woodpeckers was to unveil something fundamental about their nature which then allowed us to develop e.g. a drug to mitigate or ease migraines .. well, would that still be counted as "waste"? It's no longer useless, but it only becomes clear what the use is AFTER the research is done and the application is found. This is the key point with science, we cannot always justify "blue skies" research in advance, because we simply have no way to predict what the results will be useful for. Nobody knew what use electricity would be, the majority of people thought computers were a waste of money, and few if anybody realised the true potential of the internet.

"In the last two weeks, we've seen a hattrick of Nobel Prizes going to UK based scientists. If we're in such good health, surely we can actually afford these cuts?"
Wow. Just... wow. I'm not really sure where to start with such an insane question. The UK certainly is doing very well in terms of the quality of its science output for the money that gets put into it, but has the UK sense of self-worth truly sunk so low as to believe that if we're doing well, we should stop doing what we're doing until we're doing badly? Should our olympic athletes, upon finding themselves winning a race, stop trying so hard and slow down? I'm a little disappointed that Dr Blakemore didn't take the opportunity to point out that the "UK based scientists" that won those prizes are exactly the demographic who are likely to leave the UK as a result of the cuts.

Energy from Music
Stewie victory
rocketeddy
I haven't cycled to work for a while. Or rather, I hadn't cycled to work regularly for a while, until this week. Yesterday I was thinking "dear gods, it can't really have been THAT long" as I struggled up the hill. But then I remembered: I'd forgotten my music. So today, I cycled in listening to Disturbd, Muse, NIN and so forth ... and my lord was it easier - I practically flew in compared to yesterday. So what is it about music that gives us that extra energy?

I find it hard to believe it's entirely due to motivation, since the body is genuinely tired and complaining, rather than simply mental fatigue. Of course, it's hardly news that listening to music (or singing along) gives your energy a boost - the slaves in N.America certainly knew it, and even the galley slaves of 2000+ years ago knew it. There's a reason all military regiments have a "marching band" too. But has anybody actually got a genuine biological/medical reason for it? I'm sure somebody must have investigated it over the years.

So here's a thought for the day ... why don't you often see long-distance runners (marathons etc) listening to MP3 players? Or is that just my imagination?
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Twitter: Rocketeddy vs UK Space Agency
Affairs of Scientists
rocketeddy
I'm very happy that the UK now has an official space agency and even happier that ESA has finally opened a UK facility - indeed, I wouldn't be unhappy about the idea of working there in the future. That said, I know spin when I see it.

So when I read in the UKSA announcement about the ESA facility at Harwell, I was unhappy (and surprised) to read:
"The facility at Harwell is a new departure for ESA, as it is the first time that it has set up for business at an existing large science and technology facility."
Because this isn't true. 20 years ago, in 1990, ESA established the European Astronaut Centre at the DLR site in Cologne - and both are still there today.

I tried to poke UKSA via twitter about this, and this was the resulting "conversation":
rocketeddy @spacegovuk The first time ESA sets up at an existing site? What about the EAC at DLR in Cologne?
spacegovuk @rocketeddy #uksa Please note it is the first time ESA has set up a facility in the UK http://bit.ly/bpuFII
rocketeddy @spacegovuk my ref was to "first time that it has set up for business at an existing large science and technology facility" not "1st in UK"
spacegovuk @rocketeddy #uksa EAC is based on an Aerospace site (DLR) whereas Harwell is a general Science and Technology site http://bit.ly/9l8NPi
rocketeddy @spacegovuk I agree, but DLR was still "an existing large science and technology facility" & btw also has a broad remit http://bit.ly/ajywQo

Kudos to them for responding, but their arguments are very weak.

There is no dispute that this is the first ESA facility in the UK, but I consider making a claim this is "a new departure for ESA" because DLR research is "Aerospace" and Harwell is "general science" is a bit ludicrous, considering the DLR research institutes at Cologne include medicine, materials science, propulsion tech, aerodynamics, thermodynamics, solar energy, spacecraft operations, simulations, software and IT. It may have an "aerospace" focus, but that doesn't make it any less "an existing large science and technology facility".

I was also unsure whether to be insulted or amused at them giving me a link to the EAC website, as if I didn't know what it was. I think that was quite ironic.
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