Subject: Re: Tom W. Bell paper
From: "Ben Tilly" <btilly@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 2 Sep 2006 14:44:03 -0700

On 9/2/06, Thomas Lord <lord@emf.net> wrote:
> simo wrote:
[...]
> > I never seen markets put trillion of dollars on the table for a serious
> > scientific research that is _not_ going to bring out a finite product in
> > less then 5 years.

Can you name me any single piece of serious scientific research that
cost a trillion dollars?  Or anything close to it?  Just for a point
of comparison, NASA's budget through 2005 totalled 591 billion in 1996
dollars.  (I summed up the column from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Budget.)

> > But I am not an expert, some examples may be enlightening.
> >
> You also haven't seen any government or all governments collectively
> put trillions of dollars on the table for serious scientific research
> that is
> _not_ going to bring out a finite product in less than 5 years.  Not
> now, not once, not ever.

You can drop the qualifiers.

> You also make a mistake if you are saying that product orientation
> is antithetical to "fundamental" research.

Actually Tom, Simo would be right on this one.  Trying to focus on
specific commercial products and outcomes generally runs counter to
fundamental research.  Occasionally by happy coincidence the two will
align (random example, lots of astronomy research got done because it
helped people figure out local longitudes), but it must be understood
that this is a coincidence and is not an expected outcome.  Generally
it will be found that there is a trade-off to be made, and a product
orientation guarantees that the trade-off will not benefit fundamental
research.

Cheers,
Ben