Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why fund science that doesn't benefit society?

Blog post at Page F30
links to a Science Channel interview of Neil deGrasse Tyson

Do you think I'm being driven when I look at the early universe or study the rotation of galaxies or the consumption of matter by black holes, do you think I'm being driven by the lessening of the suffering of the people on Earth? Most research on the frontier of science is not driven by that goal. Period.

Now, that being said, most of the greatest applications of science that do improve the human condition comes from just that kind of research. Therein is the intellectual link that needs to be established in an elective democracy where tax-based monies pay for the research on the frontier.

So I take issue with the assumption that science is simply to make life better. Science is to understand the world. And use that -- now you've got a utility belt of understanding. Now you access your tools out of that...to use that power in the greater good of our species.

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