Why basic research matters, for example

This post was previously posted on Gotham Skeptic in the first weeks of the blog’s existence. The topic has been on my mind since the announcement last week of Craig Venter’s amazing achievement.

A common mold yielded the most important antibiotic of the last century.

A common mold yielded the most important antibiotic of the last century.

This is probably the single most important issue to me as a scientist and as a citizen. Coming up with a straightforward answer to why basic research is important is difficult every time I am asked to do so, and depends on who is doing the asking. When writing to a granting agency, it is crucial to outline why my particular aspect of research needs to be pursued more rigorously, and with that granting agency’s money. When it is asked by an acquaintance on the street, I have to first assess the asker’s understanding of how science is done in order to respond. … continue reading this entry.

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