Usefulness of Useless Knowledge

When we think of infrastructure, we tend to think of the physical facilities and systems required for a country and its economy to function and thrive—roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and railways as President Donald Trump specified in his February 28 speech to Congress. Maintaining our...
Dick Ahlstrom of the Irish Times writes: A remarkable discovery was made in a laboratory at Trinity College Dublin about a year ago, one that may change all our lives in the future. Or maybe not. It was the unexpected...
On April 30, 1939, under the gathering storm clouds of war, the New York World’s Fair opened in Flushing Meadows, Queens. Its theme was The World of Tomorrow. ... Some of the displayed innovations were truly visionary. ... Albert Einstein , honorary chair...
A forty-year tightening of funding for scientific research has meant that resources are increasingly directed toward applied or practical outcomes, with the intent of creating products of immediate value. In such a scenario, it makes sense to focus on the most identifiable and urgent problems,...
The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge features founding Director Abraham Flexner’s classic essay of the same title, first published in Harper’s magazine in 1939, and a new companion essay by Robbert Dijkgraaf , Director and Leon Levy Professor at the Institute.
Craig A. Tovey of Science Magazine reviews The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge (Princeton University Press, March 2017) by founding IAS Director Abraham Flexner with a companion essay by current IAS Director Robbert Dijkgraaf . The book, Tovey writes, "makes a strong case for...
Scott McLemme of Inside Higher Ed reviews The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge (Princeton University Press, March 2017) by founding IAS Director Abraham Flexner with a companion essay by current IAS Director Robbert Dijkgraaf. Of the book, McLemme writes of Dijkgraaf's observation that “a...
A trio of British-born researchers working in the U.S. won the Nobel Prize in Physics Tuesday for what one of them called a curious mathematical “toy” that to his surprise revolutionized the study of exotic matter suitable for quantum computers, new superconductors, and advanced designer materials.
Much more I am pleading for the abolition of the word ‘use,’ and for the freeing of the human spirit. To be sure, we shall thus free some harmless cranks. To be sure, we shall thus waste some precious dollars. But what is infinitely more...
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