From its very first days, scientific inquiry has revolved around curiosity. Scientists follow their intellects and probe and test and hypothesize, and every once in a while make a big discovery. World War II and the Manhattan Project introduced the idea of applied scientific research to the world — the idea that scientific research should be results-oriented and geared towards solving a specific social, political, or biological problem. Our guest this hour, Siddhartha Mukherjee, argues that after September 11th, "it's tempting to think of curiosity-driven science as an anachronistic luxury." But the applied science model is flawed, he says. It puts scientific decision-making powers in the hands of politicians and often leads to important areas of research being neglected. This hour: the perhaps-skewed priorities of scientific research post-9/11.
Siddhartha Mukherjee, medical resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School;
Maxine Singer, President of the Carnegie Institution of Washington
This program aired on January 21, 2002. The audio for this program is not available.