Usefulness of Useless Knowledge

“Our whole education is a process of confrontation between our imagination and the reality of established facts,” Institute Director and Leon Levy Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf tells the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. “I think the greatest scientists have such an intense curiosity that they’re not discouraged by the current practice of the field and they push the boundaries of knowledge.”
The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge by Director Robbert Dijkgraaf and IAS founding Director Abraham Flexner, “read in the right government places, might inoculate the nation against philistine utilitarianism,” observes Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist George F. Will in the Washington Post.
IAS Faculty, Trustees, and Members participated in ICTS at Ten , a gathering to celebrate the unity of science, on January 4–7, at the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences campus in Bengaluru, India. The event featured half-hour talks by IAS Faculty and Members,...
IAS Faculty, Trustees, and Members will participate in ICTS at Ten , a gathering to celebrate the unity of science, which takes place January 4–7, at the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences campus in Bengaluru, India. The event features half-hour talks by IAS...
On December 9, the world's leading scientists, experts, and opinion leaders will gather in Gothenberg, Sweden, for thought-provoking conversations on the future of truth as part of the 2017 Nobel Week Dialogue. Robbert Dijkgraaf , Director and Leon Levy Professor, will give a lecture...
Charles Kolb, a Senior Public Policy Executive and contributor for Huffington Post , writes of the realities of waning American innovation and productivity, along with the great decline of basic research funding. With reference to the Usefulness of Useless Knowledge (Princeton University Press, March...
John Ewing, President of Math for America, writes in the Huffington Post : The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge was recently republished along with a companion essay, The World of Tomorrow by Robbert Dijkgraaf, the current director of the Institute for Advanced Study. Dijkgraaf’s...
“Perhaps the biggest fact of the last three hundred years of history is that life expectancy tripled in the West and in many other parts of the world. But it's not connected to one discovery or one battle being fought—it is a tremendous driver and...
What is "useless" knowledge? Can it ever become useful? And how can this approach to scientific research be applied further afield? To be really useful, it’s always a second order of fact. It’s always something that comes as a spin-off of your primary drive, which...
It's not only about sharing the products of science, but also the values of science—thinking longterm, thinking about both facts and the uncertainties, thinking in terms of reason. . . . If you think about the Space Race, it was wonderful to put a person...
If you look back at history, you see that large transformations in society, the really immense breakthroughs, they always came as a second order of fact—they were the spin-offs of fundamental enquiry, very deep thinking, which can only happen if you give researchers space and...
What is the best use of scientists’ time, energy, and grant funding? Should researchers investigate the fundamental nature of the universe…or cure cancer? Or is there a way to ensure that we can do both, even if financial support is harder to get? Click ...