Stress balls with the message ‘stay calm and research’ have been sent to US scientists by the Research Councils UK amid concern over the impact of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Scientific bodies, academics and others have all expressed concern about the Republican billionaire’s attitude to science, particularly about climate change.
There are also fears that Mr Trump’s plans to cut taxes and spend large amounts of money on the military, a wall between the US and Mexico and other projects could leave little left to pay for research. His controversial immigration ban on people from seven mainly Muslim countries is also seen as retrograde step because of the need for scientists to collaborate.
The bright red stress balls, which bear an image of the royal crown, were delivered by staff promoting British science at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in Boston.
They echo a British poster made during World War II which urged people to “Keep calm and carry on”. It was designed for use in the event of a German invasion, so was never actually displayed in public during the war.
A source close to the stress ball campaign told The Independent that “typical British humour” was being deployed as part of efforts to promote UK science.
“We want something that people will keep on their desk, so it has to be useful or funny,” the insider said. “We went with funny.”
Some scientists in the US may see it as gallows humour.
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
The president of the AAAS, Professor Barbara Schaal, described a Trump administration ban on scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency from speaking publicly about their work as “chilling” at the opening of the annual meeting.
Trump officials’ use of phrases like “alternative facts” have also sparked concern.
In April, there are plans in the US and around the world plan to hold a March for Science because of concerns that politicians like Mr Trump and many in the public no longer trust scientific research.