The UK government is committed to basic science, said Battle. "The ongoing comprehensive spending review gives us the opportunity to spell out our commitment to the science base, " he added. Battle called on physicists to keep drawing a parallel between the UK and the US, where the budget request for 1999 is up 8% on this year.

Battle also highlighted the need for researchers to engage with the public. "It is vital to win public support for science programmes, " he said. "We need to develop links between those developing new technologies and those using them." He praised the Institute of Physics for funding initiatives in the public understanding of science.

And Battle also pointed to the need to continue strengthening the links between science and industry. "We have got to break down the barrier not only of understanding but of applying, " he said. Battle praised the Technology Foresight exercise and mentioned the need to engage small and medium-sized businesses in the second round of Foresight, which is due to take place next year.