the importance of different sciences?
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22-09-2014, 07:40 AM
the importance of different sciences?
I am currently studying Astrophysics with a focus on cosmology. I hold the belief that this is the most important field of science(I am obviously very biased here). Through physics and astronomy, we can answer a lot of the big questions in life. We can truly understand our place in the cosmos, we may find out if we are not alone, and we can understand how we truly came to be. Also, physics is the description of how everything works. To me, it feels like I am studying the truth of reality. I have a very good friend who is studying Human Biology. The importance of her field is fairly self explanatory, but I still feel like there is intrinsic value in the study of the universe. She thinks my head is too far in the clouds. That my science is important, but it's not nearly as important as applied sciences. I want to hear what do you all think. Is applied sciences the most important to humanity? Or is there a larger importance in understanding our true origins? This topic has created some very interesting discussions for us, so I hope in creates some interesting discussions here. Smile
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22-09-2014, 09:24 AM
RE: the importance of different sciences?
(22-09-2014 07:40 AM)trogit Wrote:  I am currently studying Astrophysics with a focus on cosmology. I hold the belief that this is the most important field of science(I am obviously very biased here). Through physics and astronomy, we can answer a lot of the big questions in life. We can truly understand our place in the cosmos, we may find out if we are not alone, and we can understand how we truly came to be. Also, physics is the description of how everything works. To me, it feels like I am studying the truth of reality. I have a very good friend who is studying Human Biology. The importance of her field is fairly self explanatory, but I still feel like there is intrinsic value in the study of the universe. She thinks my head is too far in the clouds. That my science is important, but it's not nearly as important as applied sciences. I want to hear what do you all think. Is applied sciences the most important to humanity? Or is there a larger importance in understanding our true origins? This topic has created some very interesting discussions for us, so I hope in creates some interesting discussions here. Smile

You're both wrong, you're both right.

However, without pure science there can be no applied science.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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22-09-2014, 09:47 AM (This post was last modified: 22-09-2014 09:51 AM by Mathilda.)
RE: the importance of different sciences?
I've worked as a software engineer on a project building a billion euro observatory. I think all science is important but I couldn't help wondering whether astrophysics should be getting as much money as it currently does. I have a suspicion that if your government has millions of euros / dollars / pounds / whatever to spend then the safest bet for not letting it go to waste is to donate it to a large scale physics project that is only being held back by the cost of engineering rather than real blue sky research that may not produce results.

I can appreciate the desire to see what's really out there and to understand the nature of reality (or the desire to look at pretty pictures as I scathingly used to refer to it when I worked at the observatory), but ultimately it does need to benefit society on a practical level. I do appreciate that pure research leads to spin-offs that would be otherwise unobtainable if you tried to create them from the outset (e.g. trying to invent television in the Victorian ages without first doing the underlying pure research into electro magnetism)

I'm a computer scientist researching biologically plausible artificial intelligence and there's very little funding for core CS or AI research because so much progress is being made at the moment because of the continuation of Moore's law. More funding in AI could produce some stunning breakthroughs. But I still personally argue that the best use of funding at the moment is to aggressively promote research into new forms of energy generation such as fusion.

Human society is driven by cheap energy and is wholly dependent on fast diminishing fossil fuels. We only have one shot at doing this before cheap energy runs out. This is humanity's most pressing need.

On the other hand, perhaps we could just stop wasting money on pointless wars and research all forms of science?
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22-09-2014, 09:55 AM
RE: the importance of different sciences?
(22-09-2014 09:47 AM)Mathilda Wrote:  On the other hand, perhaps we could just stop wasting money on pointless wars and research all forms of science?

Now that's just crazy talk. Shocking

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22-09-2014, 03:07 PM
RE: the importance of different sciences?
M Theory, Superstring theory, S-Duality, T-Duality, etc. is all voodoo. I know that is true because my wife says it is and she told me not to disagree with her. Laugh out load

They are equally important. Cosmology may tell us where we came from and where we are going, which is important to know, but you can't concentrate on that if your hemorrhoids are driving you nuts so you need a little applied science to remove that distraction. I used to favor theoretical physics but today, I favor days when I feel good, when my car runs as it should, and all the other things that applied sciences have given us work as they should.
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22-09-2014, 03:22 PM
RE: the importance of different sciences?
Particle physics is the study of the fundamental structures of all of reality. If there is a "most important science" (which there isn't, but, assuming there was), that's the one.

The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
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22-09-2014, 03:35 PM
RE: the importance of different sciences?
If there is a most important science, then it's:

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Scientists gotta eat, sleep, and wear clothes. Drinking Beverage


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22-09-2014, 04:17 PM
RE: the importance of different sciences?
(22-09-2014 09:47 AM)Mathilda Wrote:  I've worked as a software engineer on a project building a billion euro observatory. I think all science is important but I couldn't help wondering whether astrophysics should be getting as much money as it currently does. I have a suspicion that if your government has millions of euros / dollars / pounds / whatever to spend then the safest bet for not letting it go to waste is to donate it to a large scale physics project that is only being held back by the cost of engineering rather than real blue sky research that may not produce results.

To the extent that anything in physics is ever trendy, astrophysics sort of is at the moment.

Wouldn't all scientists tell you that their field is underfunded? That's my experience...

(22-09-2014 09:47 AM)Mathilda Wrote:  I can appreciate the desire to see what's really out there and to understand the nature of reality (or the desire to look at pretty pictures as I scathingly used to refer to it when I worked at the observatory), but ultimately it does need to benefit society on a practical level. I do appreciate that pure research leads to spin-offs that would be otherwise unobtainable if you tried to create them from the outset (e.g. trying to invent television in the Victorian ages without first doing the underlying pure research into electro magnetism)

Well, cathode ray tubes were invented in Victorian times...
Tongue

The thing is, though, that it's impossible to predict the spin-offs in advance. Back in the 1950s everyone thought lasers were of purely theoretical interest.

(22-09-2014 09:47 AM)Mathilda Wrote:  I'm a computer scientist researching biologically plausible artificial intelligence and there's very little funding for core CS or AI research because so much progress is being made at the moment because of the continuation of Moore's law. More funding in AI could produce some stunning breakthroughs. But I still personally argue that the best use of funding at the moment is to aggressively promote research into new forms of energy generation such as fusion.

Human society is driven by cheap energy and is wholly dependent on fast diminishing fossil fuels. We only have one shot at doing this before cheap energy runs out. This is humanity's most pressing need.

On the other hand, perhaps we could just stop wasting money on pointless wars and research all forms of science?

They wouldn't happen at all if those responsible thought they were "pointless". So the question is, how might the relevant opinions be swayed towards greater funding for science?

I'll let you know if I come up with anything that seems to work. Science funding here has tanked since the current government won a majority in 2011.

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