According to the Daily Telegraph, Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the president of the Institute of Physics, has written a letter to George Osborne describing the plan as 'disastrously short-sighted'. We can't help feeling she has a point. Unlike the universe (well, according to Stephen Hawking), there's definitely a role here for a benevolent central body, who can provide the cash to keep our big-brained boffins in white coats and sellotaped glasses.
But if hi-tech companies start to worry about a potential lack of cash to support UK R&D, it stands to reason that they - not to mention Britain's top research talent - may well disappear to foreign shores, in search of somewhere a bit more generously endowed. 'Science and innovation have the potential to be one of the major drivers of growth in a rebalanced economy,' as Burnell puts it. 'But R&D is mobile; the best researchers will follow the funding, and high technology businesses will follow the researchers.'
The Government is clearly in a bit of a pickle here. On the one hand, it's desperate to save money, and budgets are being slashed across the board. On the other, maintaining genuine cutting-edge scientific innovation - with all the commercial opportunities this brings - surely has to be a priority. Funding cuts might save money in the short term, but there's a good chance they'll also limit economic output in the longer term.
In the circumstances, we doubt science will escape scot-free. But hopefully the cuts won't run too deep. As the Government is increasingly discovering, for all its focus on saving money, sometimes you need to speculate to accumulate.