What is the point of astronomy? - part II

Back in 2006, in response to a few people I had spoken to, I wrote a post describing some of the practical benefits of astronomy. The list contained a diverse range including digital cameras, weather prediction, identification of cancers, and providing a warning about Earth-impacting asteroids. The list is quite long, contains some surprises and is certainly not comprehensive. Today I've just read about two more practical benefits. Sheila Crosby writes that the ceramic partof ceramic hobs was developed for telescope mirrors and World Science reports that astronomysoftware may help to save the whale shark. That is one of the great things about pure science, it can sometimes provide technological benefits in fields totally unrelated to the original research.

One might hope that the powers-that-be at STFC know all this. I can only assume that they haven't put much effort into sharing these spin-offs and practical benefits with the Government given the current funding crisis. Come on STFC, get your act together and tell our elected representatives how useful astronomy actually is. You might also want to explain that science funding isn't just about short-term economic gains. That may be lost on the politicians though.

Save Astronomy

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Monday 11th Feb 2008 (18:58 GMT) | Permalink
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