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djs56's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by djs56

Comment 26 by Northampton I think we're talking about two different criteria here.

I not sure i agree. No-one is making a business case for what profits my future massive $10billion experiment will make (apart from maybe ITER). The point is providing evidence from previous experiments to quantitatively demonstrate the ancillary benefits.

By 'good science' I mean that which has the greatest chance to increase our understanding of nature.

I think this a very poor definition of good science, and also not very helpful. Virtually everything we do increases our understanding of nature. I think using your definition we can say "it's all good."

The harder question is not how do we decide what to do, it's how do we decide what to do in the face of limited resources. I am talking about "big science" here, science that is increasingly beyond the limits of most countries, including the USA. The actual science projects to fund are generally chosen by the science community, and that's as it should be.

For example, recently ESO has decided it wants the "Extremely Large Telescope" the community reached a consensus on what science it wants to do. The successor to the LHC is likely to be some electron-positron linear collider, however the communities have not reached a consensus on this machine, and so until that happens it is stagnating.

However it is still up to society to pay the bills. I think the key point, once you have chosen your science, which is "easy", as all science is potentially good, is to get the public to fund it.

When asking for evidence one needs to specify evidence for worthwhile scientific endeavors as well as the trivial consideration that some fool will pay you a few shekels for it

I don't really know what to make of this comment. I think that you are saying that after you have done your worthwhile science it will be easy to get someone (who is a fool) to pay money to exploit it. If that’s what you are saying that sounds callous. Expressing that sort of attitude will probably not help convince the public to fund your science. (Apologies if i have misunderstood you.)

I suppose the question now is why does a society choose to do science? Again, mainly they want better health, cleaner energy, and higher security. That’s what people want. I think the scientist have a duty to convince them that they also want a Higgs Boson and the reason is you're likely to get a whole load of other stuff you actually care about.

Thu, 21 Jun 2012 19:17:03 UTC | #947946