Stephen Hawking has urged the UK government to act swiftly to protect British science in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union.
Writing in the Guardian, the renowned physicist claimed that many scientific projects conducted in the UK would never have happened without EU funding.
“British science needs all the money it can get, and one important source of such funding has for many years been the European commission,” Hawking wrote. “Without these grants, much important work would not and could not have happened.”
Hawking proceeded to call on the government to ensure that British participation in European projects was secured.
The Guardian recently revealed that some British academics had been asked to leave EU-funded projects after the results of the referendum were announced.
A number of high profile figures in British science have also expressed fears about the impact of Brexit on scientific research.
Last month, Jo Johnson, minister for science and universities, said he was “extremely concerned” about the impact of the Brexit vote on UK research.
Meanwhile, the British astronaut Tim Peake said that the scientific community needed to mitigate the fallout of the leave vote.
Hawking’s essay highlighted the role that greed played in the referendum and why collaboration is key to humans’ survival.
But Hawking also said that fundamental questions about the value of knowledge, money, ownership and fulfilment had triggered a shift in behaviour which has led to the conception of a new wave of grand projects:
“I hope and believe that people will embrace more of this cathedral thinking for the future, as they have done in the past, because we are in perilous times. Our planet and the human race face multiple challenges. These challenges are global and serious – climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans.”
He suggested that we should broaden the definition of wealth to include “knowledge, natural resources, and human capacity, and at the same time learn to share each of those more fairly”.