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My lab:
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The other day I suddenly realized that something which is completely 'normal' and commonly accepted, doesn't make any sense to me at all. There has to be some important point I'm missing. Everybody else doesn't seem to have any issue with it. Everybody seems to be asking: "and what is your science good for? Can you research be used for something?". If I apply for funding, it is easier to get funded, if some future application can be made plausible. The German science ministry funds virtually only applied science. The entire Fraunhofer society only does applied research and is (partly) publicly funded. Billions and billions of tax-Euros/Dollars are spent on applied research and everybody seems to be perfectly ok with it. More to the point: people prefer their money to go to applied science rather than basic science!
One of the most emphasized recent trends is to shorten the "time to market" such that applied research results in a product faster. And everybody seems to think this is a good thing. More companies right next to universities and all that. This is supposed to be a good development, good for "the economy".
Basic science, so the saying goes, is luxury at best and useless brain masturbation at worst. Apparently, basically everybody is completely ok with the taxpayer funding the development of some product, which, most likely, will be produced in a low-cost country such as China, only to be sold to exactly those taxpayers who have paid for its development. "And everyone owns a share" (Milo Minderbinder, Catch 22, Joseph Heller). And while the taxpayer pays twice for the product, the company producing it earns three times: no expense for R&D, lay off workers (produce in China), sell the product. And almost every single one of these taxpayers I meet thinks it's perfectly ok for them to pay twice and the corporations to get their money!

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This is completely insane, there's got to be something important that I'm missing...
Posted on Friday 28 March 2008 - 18:39:35 comment: 0
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