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Hmm, I don't know about the 'not at all exclusionary' argument. Even if it is true that both need more spending at this moment, there is eventually a limit on the amount of money that can and will be spend on 'knowledge for the sake of knowledge'. At some point you still need to argue that spending a marginal extra euro on particle physics is better than spending it on, say, pure mathematics, or  archeology, or ecology.

As for the PR: of course it's true, but it worth considering that most fields wouldn't even dream of trying to get these amounts of money, because no one would stop and listen to their arguments why they need billions of euros, no matte how good their PR would be.

In the end, I would argue that past applications really are a large reason particle physics can even consider to have a PR-fight for billions.

by GreatZamfir on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 02:52:21 PM EST
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Inventarisation of biodiversity isn't 'knowledge for the sake of knowledge'.
If it would be done once, then yes, but done every ten or twenty years it would provide a lot of data to judge how important specific measurements of protection are. At the moment we are driving on a straight road in the night without light and don't know when there will be a curve, although it is very likely that there is one.

On the issue of deciding where to invest money for 'knowledge for the sake of knowledge', I would suggest let scientist decide, what they like to do most. And of course there is a level of saturation and a minimum level below which a branch of science can't operate anymore at all. This minimum amount is unfortunately in particle physics relatively high, as you want to have at least one high energy collider in the world.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 03:04:28 PM EST
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