• Question: How do you convey the importance that current basic science does (will) have? #

    Asked by katieeprater to Andrew, Lindsay, Paige, Sean, Jeff on 13 Feb 2016.
    • Photo: Andrew Maynard

      Andrew Maynard answered on 13 Feb 2016:

      See my response to @IHStreet – it’s tough, but I think part of the approach is not to think of this as needing to convince others that our work is important, but being willing to engage in a dialogue over what is important and why – listening as well as speaking. And of course making a strong case for basic research, but not to the point of marginalizing everyone who doesn’t agree with you!

    • Photo: Lindsay Hunter

      Lindsay Hunter answered on 13 Feb 2016:

      I take the approach that this is the basic information that we’re using to inform our knowledge of broader issues. If the data isn’t good (or is absent) at a basic level, that clogs up the works further down the line. Garbage in, garbage out. You can’t ask what some people think are the really interesting questions until you have your basics solid. And in that, the basics become very powerful and interesting, as our understanding of the world around us rests on their shoulders!

    • Photo: Sean Murphy

      Sean Murphy answered on 13 Feb 2016:

      Similar to my answer to ihstreet regarding the discovery of gravitational waves, one way to address this is to look back in history and see how basic research, much of which was performed simply to understand how the world works, now has essential applications in our everyday life. This ranges from the way we communicate with computers and the internet, how we are treated by medicine when we are sick, and how we can produce and transport the food we need to survive.

      On another level, there is an importance in simply understanding some of the basic questions in life, about the origins of the universe and life itself. These are questions that humans have been asking throughout all of history, and science provides the best tools to try discover some of these answers.

    • Photo: Jeff Shi

      Jeff Shi answered on 13 Feb 2016:

      I think this is by far the most important message that we, as scientists, can convey – that all discoveries with any impact whatsoever are built upon the backs of thousands of other, basic science discoveries made by scientists who have no idea what their results will be important for in the future. It’s a message I’m happy to drive home time and time again, if only to make sure young students know their curiosity can always be rewarded – just in forms and timespans that we can’t, and shouldn’t, predict.