LIGO Document G0900052-v1

The Golden Fleece: how the most powerful (and lucrative!) ideas come from seemingly impractical pursuits

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22 Jan 2009, 14:25
Scientific research spans a spectrum from "basic" to "applied" research.
Applied research typically has a clearly defined practical objective and
promises a likelihood of quick success. "Basic" research tends to be
driven by curiosity and to be focused on "big" questions that seem
to have little to do with practical concerns. There is often a perception
that scientific research is justified by the need or promise for short-term
practical outcomes. This perception tends to disfavor basic research.

In contrast, a broad segment of economists, leaders of high-tech
companies, manufacturers and a number of military leaders have been
warning that we may lose our status as a dominant world power unless
we dramatically increase government funding for long-term, basic
research. What's going on?

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