Monday, October 15, 2007

Why pure science?

I will never be able to put as well as Victor Weisskopf did in 1964 in article that has been reprinted by the CERN Courier in this article. Of the many wonderful things he say here, the following catches my attention:


The value of fundamental research does not lie only in the ideas it produces. If science is highly regarded and the importance of being concerned with the most up-to-date problems of fundamental research is recognized, then a spiritual climate is created which influences all other activities. An atmosphere of creativity is established which penetrates to every cultural frontier. Applied sciences and technology are forced to adjust themselves to the highest intellectual standards, which are determined in pure research; that is what attracts productive people and brings productive scientists to those countries where science is at its highest level.

2 comments:

gaddeswarup said...

Unfortunately trends seems to have changed particularly in the USA,. In any case Weisskoff's ideas are a bit of a myth some of us believed in our younger days and would still like to believe. The development of research universities were tied to government directives but there was room for indepenendent investigators though not for people like Einstein for some years. Have you seen Jennifer Washburn's 'University Inc' and her recent article in Discover. That is more about USA but indicates the trends. I think that we are coming to a stage where we cannot believe in some of the 'publicized' research. That is my experience in mathematics and seems widely known in medical research. But it is possible that independent reseachers may be able to work outside the establishments.

Anonymous said...

The funding for pure science especially high-energy is being drastically cut. We motivate students with science that is not the short-term priority of funding agencies atleast in US.The message of this year's appropriation is unmistakable.
"The American public, through its duly elected Congress, has made its
priorities clear: short-term applied research wins over the full
spectrum of long-term basic research."
http://www.aip.org/fyi/2008/016.html
http://www.aip.org/fyi/2008/017.html
And what is the use of collaborating with Europe on linear-colliders and LHC if most of the general indian student population doesn't get the benefit of experimental experience with latest infrastructure during their blooming phase ?