When discussing a recent project, my elementary science methods class developed some ideas about what scientists do. Notice how the traditional “scientific method” myth just doesn’t cut it.
Write grant proposals 🙂
HA! Nice. Actually, I discussed how the nature of science is changing because of increased public interest in application. This “post academic” science has much in common with academic science, but different kinds of pressures lead to different kinds of science. I hope we don’t dismiss basic research altogether.
I agree! The importance of basic research cannot be overstated! Many people suffer from the misunderstanding that in order for a line of scientific inquiry to be valid, it must have a direct application or preconceived goal in mind at the outset. The reality is much more interesting. Commonly, a useful product with application to our everyday lives exists solely because someone doing research in basic science stumbled upon an idea or method that can be made to solve an everyday problem. Even more often, a useful product comes about because a person doing basic research had to come up with a new tool to solve a problem related to that research.
Spinoff companies abound in the science world. It’s no coincidence that in the past century, we’ve constructed all these nifty gadgets and appliances as well as come to a greater understanding of the subatomic structure of the universe itself.
(Example: Microwaves were invented because someone working on a radar array stood too close to the array with a chocolate bar in their pocket.)
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