The morale of the British scientific community is at its lowest level ever, largely because of the low level of research funds. The total British government expenditure on R&D in 1987 is estimated to be 4.6 billion pounds ($6.5 billion), of which 52 percent is earmarked for military R&D and 21 percent for other government departments. Only 1.2 billion pounds ($1.7 billion) is left for nongovernmental researchers. Britons spend 12 times more on alcohol than their government allocates for nongovernmental scientific research.

Small wonder that some scientists are eager to grasp the SDI nettle. When former Defence Minister Michael Heseltine signed the Memorandum of Understanding in December 1985 .that marked Britain's entry into the Star Wars sweepstakes, he prophesied that $1.5 billion of SDI business would come Britain's way. For many, the Heseltine promise seemed like manna from heaven. Such an injection of funds could, it seemed, save many research...

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