Robert Maxwell wrote:
If gturner is saying we need more funding for blue sky research, well, duh. I don't think you'll find anyone here who'd be against that.
I don't think it's a coincidence that what public science funding the US does have is "results-oriented," as he put it. No kidding. Corporate lobbyists have themselves pushed the dialogue in that direction and gotten sympathetic politicians to cut funding for pure research. Once again, gturner makes the claim that inept government is the problem, when in reality it's corporate interference with government spending that's at the root of all this, aided and abetted by conservative politicians who think pure research is a waste of money.
I was unaware that corporate lobbyists controlled all the spending at universities and government research institutions.
It's not that the government is inept (thought it generally is), it's that it's going to be using much the same system it uses for Department of Defense grants. When they're not looking for bang for the buck and quick results, they're trying a mega-project like a space telescope or a fusion reactor.
A few months ago I was chatting with the head of facilities at our local university, and he talked about how it was his job to support the researchers who are bringing in the biggest grants, since the university has to make a profit by taking a cut of what they bring in. In the case he was complaining about, the school was trying to save money by being green and controling the temperature of the research buildings to save fuel, but some of the researchers were doing experiments whose temperature couldn't be allowed to vary that much. This could cause some of the more profitable researchers to leave (and we're talking pure government grant money, not corporate), which would leave offices vacant and thus non-productive.
It's like the university is farming or share-cropping or something, providing space, power, and communication services in return for a percentage of the grant harvest.