Despite misgivings, ‘basic science’ has brought us great achievements

“[M]ost technological breakthroughs come from technologists tinkering, not from researchers chasing hypotheses,” [Matt Ridley stated]. “Heretical as it may sound,” he concluded, “‘basic science’ isn’t nearly as productive of new inventions as we tend to think.”

This argument is misguided. Even though several people may have invented various gadgets more or less simultaneously, those inventions were grounded in earlier scientific research that had no particular intended practical application…This is how science works.

Perhaps the quintessential example of the synergy and serendipity of basic research was the origin in the early 1970s of recombinant DNA technology…It resulted from the confluence of several esoteric, largely unrelated areas of basic research…The result was the ability to move functional genes from one organism to another virtually at will—the birth of modern biotechnology.

Basic science often does provide the fertile substrate from which technological breakthroughs sprout, and seemingly unrelated and obscure research areas may intersect and synergize unexpectedly. That is why we should continue to support well-designed basic research even in the absence of obvious benefits to society.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: The Triumph Of “Basic Science”

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