1. General Seminars

The usefulness of useless science

by Dr Fabrizio Fiore (INAF-OAR)

Aula Bruno Touschek (LNF INFN)

Aula Bruno Touschek


If the scientific results financed by taxpayer money are “public goods”, is it useful or even ethical to spend billions Euros/$ to search for an elementary particle? Or to visit a Jupiter satellite and look for water on Mars? Or to observe a galaxy ad the edge of the Universe? In other words, is it useful to fund basic research? And if so, with what resources and to do what kind of science? Competition has become one of the major driving forces for research. But are we sure that the competition-driven science model is truly the best one to make useful science? More, is the very concept of knowledge changing today? The scientific method introduced by Galileo more that 400 years ago resisted at least three industrial revolutions. Are we sure is it still valid and applicable today, in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution? The answers to all these questions are not obvious, on the contrary, they can contain many surprises not all pleasant or reassuring, answers among which we will try to orient ourselves using an unconventional point of view.