Spending Review offers relief for scientists, but pain remains
Scientists were obviously relieved after Chancellor George Osborne's announcement in the Spending Review that the science budget is not going to be slashed, but frozen in cash terms for the next four years.
Rumours had suggested cuts of around 20%, which leading figures had said would mean "game over", not just for science in this country, but for future growth of the economy as well.
And at face value, it's a powerful vote of confidence in the contribution that science can make.
"Astonishing" was how particle physicist and television science presenter, Professor Brian Cox, described the outcome today, as he received an OBE for services to science.
He said the success was a clear signal for scientists like him that it is vital they stand up and speak out for their subject:
"For the first time I think we've made the political point as well as the economic point that supporting science is invaluable," he said.
He added that science is clearly part of the future of the country: "So it needs to be seen as something that kids want to do, it needs to be seen as a career that you can attain...you don't have to be a Hawking or an Einstein or a Newton to make a contribution.
"But for me, the main thing to say to school kids is, if you want to be a scientist, it doesn't matter if it's medical research, or chemistry or whatever it is, then you can choose to do it."
Without wishing to spoil the fun, the freeze in the annual science budget (of £4.6bn billion) still means that, in real terms, science faces a cut - and a significant one - of just under 10% over the next four years. And that is a huge challenge.
Most importantly, the freeze must be seen in an international context in which countries from Asia to Europe to the US are pumping extra money into science.
Evan Harris, the former Liberal Democrat Science spokesman, conceded the point:
"The science community will be relieved by this settlement, but we know that even 10% real terms cuts will be painful, (and) will need reversing as soon as the fiscal position improves."
But Mr Osborne does seem to have listened to what scientists have been saying in recent weeks.
In his speech today he said: "Britain is a world leader in scientific research, and that is vital to our economic success."
Addressing the Commons he said that he will protect the £220m UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation at St Pancras, the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, the Institute for Animal Health in Pirbright and the Diamond Synchrotron facility in Oxford.
Questions remain then over the UK's continued role in international projects in fields such as particle physics and astronomy, as well as the impact of cuts in university funding and R&D budgets across Government departments, which could still have a damaging effect on overall science spend in the UK.
More will be asked of the charities which currently support science. Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said "even at about 10% down, we'll be playing catch-up in an international field which could see UK science left behind".
Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, again cited the international context: "The government has recognised the importance of sustaining the international standing of UK science in a context where other nations are forging ahead."
And that's the point, science in the UK may be breathing more than a sigh of relief today, but elsewhere they're investing, fast and furious, not just keeping funding level.