Re: ECON: Private research dollars

Craig Presson (
Thu, 29 Jan 1998 08:17:55 -6

On 29 Jan 98 at 6:10, "Geoff Smith" <> quoted:

> > Point 1. The laser was not `invented' from the need for new surgical
> > instruments, nor the nanotube from the need of new fibres, nor radar
> > from the need to detect enemy aircraft, nor the chip for the purpose
> > of miniaturization, nor, nor, .....

This is wrong at least in part. Radar was developed in a wartime crash
program. Its first major application was anti-aircraft gun aiming
systems. Those old funky wooden buildings on the MIT campus (are they
still there? They were when I was a stoont) were thrown up during the
early years of WWII to house the Research Lab. for Electronics (RLE) in
which a lot of the radar work happened. Norbert Weiner solved the
control problem and opened up the whole field of real-time control
systems (thanks, Norbert! Working on real-time OS at DG was one of the
best times of my checkered career).

And what, pray tell, was behind the development of ICs besides the need
to miniaturize and standardize circuits? I don't think that was a good
example of pure research that found later application, either, although
examples do abound. And because they do, commercial entities do
sponsor quite a lot of "pure" research, which is probably part of the
refutation you're looking for. IBM, Bellcore, and a few other large
corporate labs have a lot of people doing "pure" research, while
universities in general, including public ones, have a lot of
professors who choose their research areas carefully to maximize useful

-- (Freeman Craig Presson)