QOTD: Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman“What is the use of discovering the age of the universe? Or, what are these quasars that are exploding? I mean what’s the use of all that astronomy? There isn’t any. Its curiosity that I’m satisfying. If human curiosity represents a need, then the attempt to satisfy curiosity is practical, by definition. I would not put out any promise that it would be practical in some economic sense.”

From The pleasure of finding things out

Feynman is a hero. But at the same time, when the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and we are being paid on the public dime, do we have some obligation to carve out some of our research time toward fixing some of the world’s problems?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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One Response to QOTD: Richard Feynman

  1. William C. Burns, Jr. says:

    Feynman is a hero. But at the same time, when the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and we are being paid on the public dime, do we have some obligation to carve out some of our research time toward fixing some of the world’s problems?

    there are logic errors in your phrasing of the question

    first
    we are going to hell in a handbasket . . .
    well thermodynamically we are going to a state of higher entrophy
    but you are making a social comment here
    and i have to believe that your evidence is anecdotal at best
    (as are most of the Newtonian conclusions about non Newtonian systems)

    second
    only the most superficial discoveries are made
    while perusing research of a known economic payoff
    it is only when we are wandering the landscape that we discover new territories
    so
    look at it this way
    the folk doing research in the private sector should try to justify their pay
    by offering up new ways to package civilize products
    but if that is such a good idea
    why do they come to scholastic institutions and fund open ended research?

    third
    every fix of a problem generates an few new problems
    in a way
    for every angel you create
    you have to deal with a demon
    so
    i would rather our researchers engaged in new visions
    with a mind untroubled by some compelling need to turn a profit
    i tend to think they might be more enlightened
    and hence create milder demons . .

    pax
    William C. Burns, Jr.

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