SCIENCE shows little regard for politics. Subatomic particles smashing together in underground colliders cross borders in a flash. Cells in a dish grow with stubborn disregard for international treaties. So British scientists might be expected to be similarly equanimous about the forthcoming referendum on the country’s membership of the EU. They are not. Britain is a research powerhouse. With just 1% of the world’s population, it has 4% of its researchers and produces 16% of the world’s most “highly cited” (influential) journal articles. So many researchers are worried by the prospect of life outside the bloc.
An informal survey of 666 British researchers by the journal Nature found 80% support staying in the EU. Over 150 fellows of the Royal Society, Britain’s national academy of sciences, wrote in March to the Times, warning that Brexit could be a “disaster for science”.