Institute of Physics Gravitational Physics Group

Elizabeth Winstanley, University of Sheffield E.Winstanley@sheffield.ac.uk
The Gravitational Physics Group of the Institute of Physics (UK) was formed at the beginning of 2002. The aim of the group is to form a scientific and public focus for the gravitational physics community, in particular, providing a forum for discussion between the theory and experimental researchers and with UK funding bodies.

Prof. Mike Cruise (Birmingham) currently chairs the group and Prof. Ray d'Inverno (Southampton) is the secretary. Details of the other members of the committee can be found on the group's web-site http://groups.iop.org/GP/. The committee includes theorists and experimentalists with a wide range of research interests and also a representative from industry. The committee representative from BAE Systems, provides a link between industry and academia, enabling liaison for exploring and directing industry supported university programmes in this and related areas of research.

A principal concern of the Group is the funding of Gravitational Physics in the UK where, partly for historic reasons, funding has been inadequate, especially on the theoretical side, since it has often appeared to have fallen between the responsibilities of the two main funding agencies PPARC and EPSRC. The Group plans to carry out a survey of the field in the UK to find out some basic information about its size and composition, prior to setting up a meeting with the two funding agencies to explore ways of increasing the funding base.

The group's first scientific meeting, held in London in February 2002, discussed the interplay between theory and experiment in gravitational physics, with talks by Dr. B.S. Sathyaprakash (Cardiff) on ``Gravitational physics: the interaction of theory and experiment'', and Prof. Gary Gibbons (Cambridge) on ``Gravitational Physics: General Relativity and its role in fundamental physics'', as well as a presentation on PPARC funding for Gravitational Physics research by Prof. Richard Wade (PPARC). Subsequently, the group hosted a meeting on ``Brane World Gravity'', in November 2002 (see separate report), and a joint meeting with the Royal Astronomical Society on ``Gravitational Wave Astronomy'', in February 2003.

On the industrial side, BAE Systems chaired a meeting in November 2002, attended by Government agencies (MoD, Qinetiq, Dstl), Rolls Royce and several UK universities on research into applications of gravitational physics for advanced propulsion systems.

The group also supports the annual BritGrav meetings. The third British Gravity Meeting is to be hosted by Lancaster University Physics Department, and will take place on 12 - 14 September, 2003. For further details see the web-site: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/depts/physics/conf/britgrav/.