Basic and applied research

While the primary focus of attention in this panel is on basic research, I feel compelled to observe that basic and applied research go hand-in-hand, informing and stimulating each other in a never-ending Yin and Yang of partnership. In some ways, applied research is a form of validation because the success (or failure) of the application may reinforce or contradict the theoretically predicted results and the underlying theory. Basic research tries to understand and applied research tries to do and often one must pursue both in the effort to uncover new knowledge.

via Vinton G. Cerf: "The Value of Investment by the U.S. Government Cannot Be Overstated" – Scientific American.

This reminds me of the point that Tom D. Crouch makes in The Bishop’s Boys: that the Wright Brothers were engineers rather than scientists.