Letter to the Clerk of the Committee from
Professor Ian Halliday, Chief Executive, Particle Physics and
Astronomy Research Council
I am writing in response to Guy Rickett's letter
dated 19 November 1999.
To what extent has PPARC been involved in the
Our research community has had something to
offer the EQUAL initiative, albeit we recognise we are minor players.
Our executive involvement has included membership of OST's EQUAL
Working Group and input to publications, documentation and briefings
To what extent has EQUAL brought about new areas
of PPARC funded research?
Given PPARC's mission to support basic research
in particle physics and astronomy, there are no new areas of PPARC
funded research attributable to EQUAL. However, PPARC science
underpins many industrial and medical technologies. The key software
for the World Wide Web itself was originally developed at CERN;
positron emission tomography (PET) and cancer radiotherapy all
derive from techniques originally developed for physics research,
and x-ray detectors designed for astronomy are being put to use
PPARC has pursued an active policy of encouraging
industrial application of its advanced technologies, primarily
through the successful PPARC Industrial Programme Support Scheme
(PIPSS), to support industrial collaboration with academic research.
The social as well as economic benefits of the proposed projects
are taken into account during the peer review assessment of PIPSS
PPARC is leading a cross-Council Foresight Associate
Programme to identify future technology requirements across the
whole science base including medical and other research relevant
to EQUAL objectives.
We are also working with other Research Councils
to identify areas where our technologies can make a contribution
to their programmes to promote EQUAL objectives. We have developed
a joint fellowship scheme with MRC to enable our community to
contribute to aspects of MRC research.
Future development of PPARC's PUS programme
will take into account its potential to contribute to the objectives
Has the initiative identified and supported the
most appropriate research areas for confronting the challenges
of an ageing population?
At an overall level this is inappropriate for
PPARC comment. However, PPARC can contribute to EQUAL by bringing
to a wider publicparticularly those with more leisure time,
such as the elderlythe interest and excitement of research
in astronomy, space science and particle physics, using the latest
telematic and multimedia techniques including the Internet. PPARC
Public Understanding of Science (PUS) awards have included a Braille
"Astronomy for the Blind" project, and remotely operated
telescopes over the Internet.
How well is the initiative managed delivered and
coordinated across Government?
As a member of OST's EQUAL Working Group PPARC
has been represented at meetings with other research councils
and OST to discuss progress and future programmes under this initiative.
Otherwise, as a minor player in EQUAL our lesser involvement means
we cannot comment on the overall project management of the initiative.
I hope this response is helpful to the Science
and Technology Committee inquiry.