"Super-NAM" is launched!
Professor Andy Fabian, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, referred to this year's European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) as "Super-NAM" since it is incorporating the RAS National Astronomy Week and the European Astronomical Society's Joint European and National Astronomy Meeting. Attended by over 1,000 delegates, EWASS is bringing together scientists from across the globe, with around one-third of attendees from outside the UK.
In the opening ceremony of EWASS, the Minister of State for Science and Innovation, Lord Drayson, said "As a nation we should be proud of our astronomers", and mentioned specifically the UK's success in discovering exoplanets and our contributions towards determining the origins of the Universe and dark energy. In his speech he said that the UK should focus on the economic expansion of the space industry since it offers a great opportunity to create jobs and deliver tangential benefits to the public, such as developments in satellite technology, GPS and broadband, healthcare and so on.
He commented that being excited about space is just the first step, but that we need to encourage the next generation to persevere with subjects such as mathematics and science in order for young people to pursue careers that have the potential to change the world.
Drayson concluded his speech by congratulating the conference organisers on the scale and scope of the conference.
Directed at Lord Drayson, Joachim Krautter, President of the European Astronomical Society, commented that the global recession was no reason to reduce funding in astrophysics. "For the progress of mankind, basic research is indispensable," he said, and asked the Science Minister to "continue to support science in the same strong way as before."