Physicist Robert Wilson on the value of pure science.

By Ben • Uncategorized • 24 Sep 2011

1969 testimony on the proposed multimillion dollar particle accelerator that would eventually be known as Fermilab:

During the testimony of physicist  Robert Rathburn Wilson — a veteran of the Manhattan Project — then-senator John Pastore bluntly asked, “Is there anything connected with the hopes of this accelerator that in any way involves the security of the country?”

Wilson, to his credit, answered just as bluntly: “No sir, I don’t believe so.”

“Nothing at all?” Pastore asked.

“Nothing at all.”

Pastore pressed further: “It has no value in that respect?”

And then Wilson knocked it out of the park. “It has only to do with the respect with which we regard one another, the dignity of man, our love of culture. It has to do with: Are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean all the things we really venerate in our country and are patriotic about. It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to make it worth defending.”

Emphasis mine.

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