What would you do for science with 100 billions dollars?

  • Thread starter ExNihilo
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  • #26
I am note sure I agree. There already examples of research areas with "too much money, but not enough ideas" (e.g.weapons research, and some cancer research).
You quite quickly reach a point where spending more money on a subject becomes counter-productive; which is why so many "flagship" projects fail (e.g. the amount of money being spent on graphene in the UK at the moment, there is TOO much money around).
It is IMHO much better to spend money on many different projects in many different areas. This is more likely to yield good results.

I totally agree! I am also in graphene business, in order to exfoliate graphene mechanically we generally take 3 million$ fund. I still do no understand why... Maybe the cost of SiO is much :D.

Anyway; If I have possessed those amount of money, I would have found EROL Dynamics and Advanced Robotic Systems and had a special laboratory under my mension at Malibu like Tony Stark :D
 
  • #27
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Chromosome research to bio-engineer ethics into politicians and lawyers.
HAHAHA!! is that even possible?
 
  • #28
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HAHAHA!! is that even possible?
Funding the research is not an issue, it's actually implementing the results.
 
  • #29
D H
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If you are thinking about using all that money for science you would be unlikely to ever acquire that much money :P
Alfred Nobel (died 1896) did. So did John D. MacArthur (died 1978), and now apparently Bill Gates (still kickin') is following their footsteps.

The thing to do with such a huge pile of money is to endow a foundation such as the Nobel Foundation or the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Spend it all at once and the most likely outcome is that you will fund things such as Jimmy Snyder's study of whether too much luxury ruins a person's life, or Jack Crackpot's study of perpetual motion. Spend a few billion per year and the foundation can keep on giving awards perpetually, with the award growing to keep up with inflation.
 
  • #30
Ryan_m_b
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I'd split the fund into various sectors with 10 billion in:
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Artificial photosynthesis
  • Eco-city R&D
  • Industrial robotics
  • Economics
Each 10 billion would be split into 10x 1 billion which in turn would be split into larger and smaller grants of all sizes e.g.
  • One 100,000,000
  • Four 25,000,000
  • ...
to be awarded over the course of 5 years.

When it comes to distributing the next 1 billion progress in the various fields over the last 5 years can be looked at and the best choices for development invested in. Hopefully this means that by the time the 10 billion is spent significant, constant progress will have been made over a 50 year period

The other 50 billion will be spent in a similar manner but focused entirely on worldwide public science education and communication between the scientific community and everyone else. The "dream" here would to give every scientist the training and tools needed to understand the importance and means of communicating science to the public. The flip side of this is that the public will be far more aware of how science works, what is currently going on and how to spot pseudo-science.

That at least is my naive fantasy.

EDIT: I'd like to lop 10 billion off of communication and add a 6th 10 billion category to fund things like this http://opensourceecology.org/ The idea of supplying a few materials and tools to a small community and giving them access to a database that allows them to build a sophisticated, self-sufficient industrial base is a fantastic one. A great way to tackle global poverty at a local level.
 
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  • #31
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I would start my own version of Nobel prize with the dividend I earn. That way I could make the smartest brains attracted to science, instead of becoming, say hedge fund managers.
Bah, I think Nobel Prizes don't motivate anyone to do science. Who studies and works so much and for so many years on a specific area just to get a prize? It's just a way to exclude scientists, since for every scientist who gets a prize, maybe there are other 100 who equally deserved it.
 
  • #32
Containment
Math! With that much money do you even realize how many more digits of Pi we could know? Can you even imagine!

No actually I would put it into computer science especially in the area of computer graphics. Think of how much better video games would be!
 
  • #33
dlgoff
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Hi,

You are a scientific committee and you have 100 billions dollars to do the researches you want. The only requirement is that the researches must not have any hidden agenda and must benefit human knowledge as much as possible.
106$ to Physics Forums to start.
 
  • #34
Monique
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100 billion?

Paul Allen founded the Allen Brain institute with 100 million and recently invested another 300 million. I like that idea, the billions can be used to support the institute over the years and give special grants to people with good ideas.
 
  • #35
epenguin
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I have no fixed viewpoint on this. Am sceptical on crash programmes. Does anyone remember President Nixon's crash programme on cancer? What did that achieve?

What faith is there in the national and international fusion programmes? Is anything that complicated to start ever going to be simple enough to keep working?

Or another example the EU's considerable research spending. There is a new Programme with a new philosophy every 4 years, every new Commissioner responsible has to make his name by changing it, but 4 years is of the order of the time to get tooled up for new research directions often. And I know that the closer you get to it the shorter some of the relaxation times become, and know of windows of opportunity that were open for days only, small ones even hours.

So I tend to think this idea of a crash programme is just feeding the vanity or other vices of politicians who are irked, bored and find hard to justify the permanent constant funding of science. Maybe scientists could achieve more if left to get on with their job with some constant security instead of spending their lives writing grant proposals and being valued according to their skill at this? OK then OTOH they do have to respond to society's needs, accountability blah blah.

I an also sceptical of the ideology of centres of Excellence, prizes and the accompanying hero-worship. I wonder if Science doesn't very much need a humus of mediocrity, or at least a plethora of unfashionable small-scale research on obscure bugs, metabolic pathways, families of chemicals and natural products and what have you.

But I am not decided and will put an opposite argument in another post.
 
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  • #36
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Hi,

You are a scientific committee and you have 100 billions dollars to do the researches you want. The only requirement is that the researches must not have any hidden agenda and must benefit human knowledge as much as possible.

What would be the program would you suggest? Would you be OK to spent all this money in the International Space Station?

Thanks in advance for any opinion.
I guess the ISS must have cost about that much by now and part of the point of the OP is to criticize this.

There was probably a lot of waste in the ISS, unfortunately that is probably true whenever the government tries to spend a lot of money on something that its citizens can not easily evaluate the worth of, which is true of most science worth doing.

It has to be noted that the ISS was not just about science. Some of it was about moving towards becoming a space faring civilization. Some of it was about forging international bonds, some of it was probably because we didn't want lots of out of work russian rocket scientists selling their abilities to certain countries eager to develop their own rockets.

There has also been a lot of anti-ISS sentiment recently, people asking "what has it achieved" and "why are we just going around in circles in low earth orbit"

There is a bit of a trap here. The thing is, the ISS has only just finished the "construction phase", i.e. a lot/most of the money has gone into running the shuttle. It was only after this phase ended, and real money was about to actually go into science (and consequently not the companies that ran the shuttle, that people suddenly started complaining about how little science it achieved and argued to biff the ISS into the ocean and begin on another construction phase for a moon base, which absolutely had to use shuttle derived hardware. Even after the cost of this program bloated so much that the lunar lander could no longer be afforded, and cheaper options that could have landed us on the moon with current hardware were demonstrated, and lunar plans were abandoned for an astroid mission, the same massive and massively expensive rocket without a mission is still being built to exacting specifications that force it to be shuttle-derived.

Well anyway, other people may interpret things differently. Go to nasaspaceflight.com to hear it from the other side I guess.

-------
Back to the OP, this time ignoring the ISS slant,
I agree with others, keep it small, you want something with measurable results and the ability to pull the funding if it does not produce them.

Myself, I think there has been a good development concerning the human spaceflight budget over the last decade or so, it has been the realization that HSF is not about exploration, it is about bringing the solar system into humanities economic sphere. More bravely, it is about space settlement.

The knee-jerk reaction is that this would be very expensive. I think this is actually a very moderate goal with obvious spinoffs for living on earth. In the process of figuring out how to keep a few hundred people alive in their own biosphere, with their own industry, without access to petroleum, endless water, unlimited oxygen, we would be solving practically every topical problem facing the world today. Reliance on fossil fuels, water recycling, alternate energies, reliance on the middle east, controlling CO2 levels, global warming, desert reclamation..

One of the things that makes these problems so daunting on earth is the "tragedy of the commons". It does not do any good to not exploit a limited resource, such as fish in the ocean or our atmosphere, if someone else is willing to grab it if you don't, and gain a competitive advantage. This is why it would be so valuable to find a recipe that worked for just a few hundred people in an enclosed environment.
 
  • #37
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I'd fight to invest a sizable portion of it into brain research. In terms of that, neuron development, adult brain and how proteins help with regeneration of cells, research in autism, ion channels, etc...

I an also sceptical of the ideology of centres of Excellence, prizes and the accompanying hero-worship. I wonder if Science doesn't very much need a humus of mediocrity, or at least a plethora of unfashionable small-scale research on obscure bugs, metabolic pathways, families of chemicals and natural products and what have you.
Why study bugs and not bacteria? Specifically hypothermophiles?
 
  • #38
epenguin
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Why study bugs and not bacteria? Specifically hypothermophiles?
I was not using 'bugs' as a precise phylogenetic term, at most as a denotation of the large Kingdom Creepycrawliae especially Creepycrawliae obscurae that includes bacteria. As far as I know hypothermophiles get a lot of attention already including from industry.
 
  • #39
epenguin
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We have probably all heard of nice-sounding innovations - and then not heard of them again.

For instance every few years - but for decades now you hear of new generations of airships which were going to have all the advantages for air carriage of goods. And submarines now I remind myself. Then you don't hear any more. I suppose there is some good reason so I am not going to propose these.

But along these lines - well first a premiss. It looks like nuclear energy is never going to supply a large proportion of our needs although we could do with an alternative to the carbon economy. That's what this article http://www.economist.com/node/21549936 and a whole supplement in the same issue are saying and explaining why it is not an area you can expect innovation from.

However some years ago there was some talk and a bit more than talk about a magic bullet which was nuclear chain reaction topped up and kept critical by injection of protons and something called 'spallation'. The advantages were that it could not go wild and you could switch it off, and wastes would be a relatively manageable problem. It was being driven in Europe by Carlo Rubbia who gave it a fancy name I have forgotten. and in the US there was some sort of a plant. But I gather that has all been closed down or languished like the airships etc.

I wonder if anyone here knows what was wrong with it, and would that be a candidate for support?
 

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