Two Defenses of Research on Useless Knowledge

John Timmer of Ars Technica 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, Timmer writes, "In it are two essays, one from Dijkgraaf titled The World of Tomorrow and the original Usefulness of Useless Knowledge penned in 1939 by Abraham Flexner, who helped found the Institute for Advanced Study. Both offer defenses of what they loosely call 'useless knowledge,' or scientific effort without immediate application. . . . Flexner's essay is a time capsule in some ways, a mixture of familiar and anachronism. Dijkgraaf's update emphasizes that the concerns haven't really changed, but the arguments that might address those concerns in a compelling way have."

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