Thursday, 28 February 2013

National Research Council president defends cuts to basic science by Harper government

National Research Council president defends cuts to basic science by Harper government: Well why should an increase funding for industry driven research be equal to cuts to basic science? Why wouldn't industry pay for its own research? why should taxpayers fund only a handful of industries? who gets to choose those few industries? why would a federally funded organization should be so narrow in its focus and work base on such short term goals? what happens to the expert people and equipment after the short term goals are met, they get changed all over again? if no investments are made in basic science, sooner or later industry will run out of innovative technologies and ways of doing things anyway, so funding for basic research will have economical and social benefits at the end anyway... "McDougall has swung the NRC in new directions since Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed him nearly three years ago: More effort at solving problems of industry, less “curiosity-driven” work with no obvious, immediate application.
This has unsettled some of his own scientists, who have complained that science proceeds best when it’s not directed by short-term industrial goals.
Some outsiders have warned of a possible loss of science ability, including Nobel Prize winner John Polanyi. Rolf-Dieter Heuer, head of the CERN particle physics lab, urged the federal cabinet to support “the richness of basic science and the importance of basic science” when he visited NRC in 2011. He didn’t mention NRC by name, but NRC’s $900-million budget puts it at the heart of federal science."
This is a great read: "Even without that, I think this new “poster child” program is a terrible idea. The reason we have federal science institutions in the first place is because industry won’t fund projects that don’t have obvious short-term commercial applications, but sometimes those projects are worth doing anyways. The fact that you’re reading this blog at all is proof of that — the Internet is a limited IT research project that has been driven exponentially beyond anything that was initially envisioned. So are antibiotics, to name another useful (and even profitable) example. I could go on, but the point is, there’s a role for basic science. Especially since if you don’t have basic science, the limits of what applied science can do are never going to move much either."

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