Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt
I noticed today that NICTA (a research institute here in Australia) uses some interesting terminology to specify how its research should be categorised. NICTA is following a model proposed by Donald Stokes where the term used is 'usedinspired basic research'. The analogy is 4 quadrants where in one dimension there is scientific advancement and in the other application or usefulness. The 4 quadranta then have a yes or no along the two columns or rows. In one quadrant there is yesadvancing knowledge and nono practical application called the Bohr quadrant, in another there is no, does not advance knowledge and yespractical application called the Edison quadrant. In the third useful quadrant (the no,no is not particularly interesting but can often be seen in grant applications) we find Louis Pasteur who made foundational contributions as well as gave us nice and bacteria free milk. The Pasteur quadrant represents the 'useinspired basic research', fair enough.
However, stumbling across the NICTA entry on wikipedia, I find that the organisation is muddying the waters a bit. They talk about 'pure basic research' and 'pure applied research' as well. OK so now we have what the rest of the world uses, 'pure, basic or foundational research' and 'applied research' as well as the Stokes' 'useinspired pure research' as well as the NICTA 'pure basic research' and 'pure applied research'. I believe seeking to prove that it is possible to prove P=NP if indeed it holds true should be regarded as 'applied basic pure research' because it is useful to know that a proof can be found if indeed it holds true that it is so and that is applied, but the proof itself (if it indeed is true) is to be regarded as F***ing pure basic for most people.
It should also be made known that proving that it is possible to construct a pair of shoes that will not wear out for at least 10.000 km of normal walk so that it is possible to investigate the effects on human psyche having to walk for that long, should be regarded as 'pure applied useinspired basic research'.
Now back to that 'no,no' grant application..
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