Are The Sciences In a Bad Marriage?

The sciences have been facing something of an internal crisis with researchers and academics dividing themselves into two camps vying for dollars and noteriety like Hollywood celebrities.

Applied science--the approach in which the end goal has real world impact--and research science--where the goal might only be the discovery of a single protein--are the two sides in conflict. But Stephen Quake, a scientist who has been responsible for advances in both camps with his work at Fluidigm, writes that the divide in the sciences is artificial.


Applied and pure science inform each other like two sides of a conversation. Pure science provides the data and findings for applied science to take into the public sphere. Applied science in turn makes headlines that can result in an increased research focus in the laboratory.

"There is an intimate connection between the invention of new technology and its application to scientific discovery," Quake says. Unfortunately, such connections are weakened by private funding which often benights flash-and-bang applied science that makes marketable discoveries with hefty prizes that academic departments need.

Do big thinkers see a need for the divide in the sciences or should the applied and research camps make amends and unite in the name of scientific progress?

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