The academic gossip mill is working overtime with the realisation that three of the most powerful political jobs in science could be up for grabs this year. Despite determined attempts by the Government to quash rumours, Westminster insiders were insisting this week that Lord Sainsbury would give up his unpaid Science Minister's job.
Sir David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser, and Lord May, president of the Royal Society, come to the end of their official terms this year. Academic and political observers have a list of likely replacements, on which controversial Labour donor Lord Drayson and Royal Society vice-president Dame Julia Higgins crop up frequently.
One suggestion is that Sir David will follow in Lord May's footsteps - although some counter that he would have to swiftly net a Nobel prize to stand a chance.