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The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge

By investing in basic science, many other societal issues are addressed. Think about the money spent on defense, health care, and education. These days we are able to deal with diseases at the molecular level, only because fifty years ago we...

Abraham Flexner’s perspective on the “usefulness of useless knowledge” has only gained in substance and breadth since his time. First and foremost, as Flexner argues so elegantly, basic research clearly advances...

On March 13, the Institute celebrated the publication of The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge (Princeton University Press), which features IAS Founding Director...

"There's so much we don't know about the world. We don't actually understand how physics works. We don't actually understand how biology works. We are a little confused about math and computer science in terms of the things...

“It is indeed an endless cycle of imagination and concentration, of divergence and convergence, of playing and thinking that deter­mines the rhythm of science and scholarship,” writes Robbert Dijkgraaf on the occasion of becoming the Institute’s ninth Director and first Leon Levy Professor. “The Institute is devoted to creating and sup­porting these experiences and the resulting, often surprising, advancements in knowledge.”

Is it not a curious fact that in a world steeped in irrational hatreds which threaten civilization itself, men and women—old and young—detach themselves wholly or partly from the angry current of daily life to devote themselves to the cultivation...