Friday, September 19, 2008


Shame about the LHC. And I believe losing a tonne of liquid helium will have hit the balance sheet too.

If I never hear the term "curiosity-driven research" again it will be too soon. Various rottweiler anchors such as Jeremy Paxman tried half-heartedly to suggest the LHC was a waste of money at £5 billion. Physicist-defenders who responded with:"curiosity-driven research" simply made it sound like long-suffering taxpayers were subsidising the selfish desires of a few self-indulgent particle physicists.

In fact politicians and policy-makers have been educated by radar, nuclear fission and fusion, and a hundred other technological innovations to understand that fundamental science is the driver for technological change, both peaceful/economic and military. They're not going to say no to the prospect of new scientific paradigms with those kinds of spin-offs.

A good Newsnight answer would be to recall Faraday's well-known answer to the question of what use is this new-fangled theory of electricity and magnetism.

Faraday made the famous retort 'What use is a baby?' To another, and more illustrious questioner, the Prime Minister, he made the prophetic reply: 'In ten years you will be taxing it!'

I for one would welcome an experimentally-validated theory which tied together electromagnetic/nuclear forces and gravity. It might lead to some technology which made climbing hills a bit easier!