Driven by Basic Research

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Science  27 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6080, pp. 392
DOI: 10.1126/science.1221292

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Are nations investing too little in basic research? In the context of the global debt crisis, several industrial countries have reduced their funding for this research. Even though the new understandings produced by this kind of science have long been the driving force behind an enormous number of key developments in society and the business world, many politicians seem to be entirely unaware of its importance beyond simply increasing the world's store of knowledge. Yet 400 years ago, a visionary political leader, the British statesman and philosopher Francis Bacon, emphasized that “Science discovery should be driven not just by the quest for intellectual enlightenment, but also for the relief of man's estate.”