Curiosity driven science/recession.

Discussion in 'The Science Forum' started by StickyEnd, May 7, 2012.

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  1. I am of the opinion that the best way to get us out of economic decline is to massively increase our science budget. Here is why; New scientific discoveries tend to lead to new technology. New technology based on discoveries tend to have unforeseen economic benefits (think electricity, electronics or medical advances etc.). We spend a tiny fraction of our budget (about 0.6 percent) on curiosity driven science, so it is relatively cheap to significantly increase that budget.

    Admittedly it is long-term, not a short term solution, but does anyone disagree?
     
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  2. Negligent-Discharge

    Negligent-Discharge LE Book Reviewer

    Totally agree. In fact, I'd like to see more investigation/research into the viability of Fusion power. Forget "alternatives" such as water/wind/solar - all well and good on a small scale, but clean fusion with the oceans acting as the resource is, to quote TSO, "where it's at."
     
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  3. Totally agree. A similar principle is penny shares: pay FA for shares in a crack pot company which then becomes THE NEXT BIG THING. Britain was built on this sort of maverick thinking, long may it continue!
     
  4. Thanks for the support but I think you are talking about target driven science rather than curiosity driven. Not that I think that is a bad thing, I just think that it is more likely to be commercially funded.
     
  5. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    Government has a very poor track record in picking scientific winners. It tends to be a truly excellent way to piss money up the wall.

    The best way is to give tax relief for capital investment and R & D. The problem with that is that you can enact legislation with the best of intentions and then sharp corporate lawyers start coming up with tax avoidance schemes.

    Longer term there are a variety of solutions including:

    - Improve our education system so that people leave with genuine knowledge not worthless qualifications in media studies.
    - Change the focus in business from short-termism to long term strategic planning.
    - Discourage excessive risk taking in business.
    - Reduce the size of the state to a level that is sustainable from the current size of our economy.
    - Etc.

    All of this takes many years and requires long term sustained planning from the government. That seems sadly absent - even the current government is just scratching round the edges of many of these problems.

    Wordsmith
     
  6. Hence my preference for public funding of curiosity driven science.
     
  7. I like the idea but think it would need a total overhaul of the type of people who seek political office.... and the education system.
    The type of politicians we have now are only interested in a time span involving the meagre term of their office and/or feathering their own nest. Very few if any have any thoughts on the greater long term good of the nation.
    Also our current education system tends to like to put round pegs in round holes, all wandering down the same path. If a square peg wants to take a turning off that road, the system doesn`t really know what to do with them. Lateral thinking isn`t really encouraged to the point where a teacher may realise that an individual has promise. And it`s lateral thinkers who tend to come up with the ideas which can be useful/marketable.
     
  8. The technique of researching curiousity has lead to nearly all major discoveries, many uncovered by accident during the process. Andre Geim who discovered 'Graphene' in this way has a weekly brainstorming session with his colleagues and students when they list ten interesting observations or questions. They then choose one to concentrate on... perhaps a game of roulette but 'Graphene' was a jackpot winner for the team.
     
  9. Crowdsourcing and the like are exactly that sort of thing. Big companies (like Google) have looked in to their R&D pipeline and seen it almost empty. They are 'open sourcing' their research so anyone can float an idea and if it has merits, can end up getting developed.
     
  10. I spent thirty-odd years working for the septics as an industrial chemist. In industry at least objectives lead everything; there was a time when we were given ten percent of our time for odd-ball work but that soon died out for most people. I was lucky in being senior enough (not very in the general scheme of things) and having a suitably perverted mind, to be able to carry on doing it, and to be fair got some good ideas to work. Universities should thrive on curiosity but there is so much investment by industry that dictates projects that they control a large proportion of the effort.

    The solution is to make universities financially independent by government grant, but we all know what the chances are of that happening...
     
  11. sirbhp

    sirbhp LE Book Reviewer

    totally agree , but we need a sience bank which would help commercially develop some of these discoveries / inventions rather than flog it off cheap to the Chinese .
     
  12. I agree. Just look at hat TATA have brought out,an air powered car. Imagine the possibilities of that technology. It is evident that oil will become just too expensive as it begins to run out, which means that it won't be financially viable to have cars or even planes. Providing alternative energies to oil will definitely bring many rewards. I believe that oil also provides us with many other things such as plastics....so research should be done to find out what other ways to provide those things. So finding alternatives to just oil alone would bring us much, let alone other technologies. Britain should be at the forefront of this research.
     
  13. I completely agree, Graphine was found in the UK, tho other materials may take it's place. We need to invest in science and actually put the trademarks and patents in place to stop other countries nicking out inventions. The recent history of the UK is the history of getting fkd over invention wise. The jet engine, electricity, tv, www, liquid crystal displays on plasma screens there's loads of stuff we've invented and not bothered to cash in on.
     
  14. I'm a scientist so I'm biased (though I shouldn't be).

    Big science like CERN and Fusion Tokamaks are money well spent in the long term, and may they continue.
    Our total knowledge doubles every 10 years, so our progress is exponential.
    I am sure fusion is just around the corner, not 50 years away as some pundits say.

    ITER - the way to new energy
     
  15. I am fairly sure that the internet is a child of CERN. But in general I agree with you.