Letter: Age is no fault for a scientist

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your science editor does a grave disservice to the many thousands of scientists whose work is facilitated by the Royal Society, by gratuituously dismissing the Society as a 'historical anachronism, consisting of a bunch of ageing scientists mostly out of touch' ('Dear Princess Anne', 15 April).

The society supports well in excess of 200 of the country's brightest young scientists through its research fellowships, making it the largest single provider of research fellowships in the UK. In the last year we gave grants to a further 2,200 scientists to assist their research and enabled international interchange and collaboration involving 1,600 more. All this was in direct support of the type of scientific work for which Dr Wilkie rightly praises the British Antarctic Survey.

It is true that the society was formed 334 years ago, and its Fellows, for all their abilities, are no more immune from the passing of time than Dr Wilkie. Neither is a fault in itself, and I would hope that the society would be judged on what it has done to encourage and support the enormous wealth of scientific intellect in Britain.

Yours faithfully,

F. GRAHAM-SMITH

The Physical Secretary

The Royal Society

London, SW1

22 April

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