Usefulness of useless knowledge

A reprinting of The Usefulness of useless knowledge, Abraham Flexner’s seminal essay about the value of primary research remains relevant today given “a forty-year tightening of funding for scientific research has meant that resources are increasingly directed toward applied or practical outcomes, with the intent of creating products of immediate value.”

In his companion essay that accompanies this reprinting of Flexner’s, Robbert Dijkgraaf the current Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, provides a bridge from 1939 to the present showing how basic research has led to major transformations in the past century (X-rays and lasers, and more).

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