Thursday, 10 May 2012

Science could be expensive, but the payoffs more than justify the costs

Science could be expensive, but the payoffs more than justify the costs: The added issue for Canada is the fact that there is no science advisory mechanism in Canada that is based on public discussions, guided by the experts and debated by the MPs... this leads to decision makings that are not in the best interests of people, scientific research or their future... basic scientific research is elemental and essential for any society that wants to build its economy based on knowledge... Also isn't it clear that no single thing we value and rely on today (technology, medicine, education, odd little things like iPhones) would not be ours today without supporting science that was essential to make them happen in the first place, and lets not forget the desire to understand the nature from a fundamental point of view... not everything needs to yield a profit that benefits a small elite or a short term gain in the budget... How many time in the history of science there have been earth-shattering discoveries that were made while researchers working on basic questions coming to life-changing revelations that change the very fabric of our daily life. Shouldn't this be encouraged and funded??? Since science can help economy, save the planet, cure diseases, provide us with new and exciting ways of life in the long run, shouldn't it be considered more important than the economy??? this is must read article: "At the dawn of the 20th century, physicists were grappling with a whole new way of thinking about the world. Einstein forced people to rethink the meaning of space, time and energy, while the mysteries of the atom were redefining the laws of nature. Planck, Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg, Schrödinger and others could never have imagined then that their revolutionary ideas about the physics of the very small would effectively redefine the world in which we live. From the insides of the atom came the quantum revolution, spawning the myriad digital applications we take for granted today, from the laptop that I am using to type this essay to our cellular phones and ultrafast fiber optic cables. In his article, Weinberg shares his concern for the future of "big science," that is, large science projects with billion-plus-dollar budgets. The recent example of the James Webb Space Telescope, the planned successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, brings this point home. Last July, the House Appropriations Committee voted to cancel the Webb telescope altogether, citing concerns about cost increases. (What wasn't clarified is that these cost increases were the result of previously insufficient funding for the project: when choking, it's natural to grab as much air as possible to survive.) Funding has been restored, but the feeling of uncertainty about the future of the project remains.
Meanwhile, in the world of the very small, Europe has been carrying the flag for a while with the Large Hadron Collider, the giant particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland. No longer able to compete solo against the Europeans, U.S. scientists have joined the project, which is a de facto worldwide collaboration to push the frontiers of knowledge. However, given Europe's recent economic woes, it's not clear that the current level of funding will continue, even with U.S. support.
How can we guarantee that higher energy accelerators and more powerful telescopes will continue to be built so that the science of the very small and of the very large can move forward? (Mid-scale science is poised to continue, in spite of frequent cuts. The same with creative small-science projects.)
In my view, it is unacceptable to cut the funding for big science. A world focused exclusively on the immediate, the pragmatic and the useful is efficient, but horribly dull. Imagine a world without news of mind-boggling discoveries about the universe or the mysteries of matter; a world without the Higgs, exploding stars, colliding galaxies or giant black holes. Even worse, imagine a world without all that we still don't know, and won't be able to discover without new tools for exploration. Then there are the potential spinoffs we would miss, the unpredictable discoveries, the revolutions that won't happen."

No comments:

Post a Comment