Whenever you see a post about something amazing science has done, or some big investment in science, there’s always somebody with a comment “that will end all wars”, or “yeah, looking at other galaxies is really useful”. Yes, many times these are nothing more than trolls, people, desperate for some attention. But many times, people really, really think these things and will flame until the end of time because of it. Also, sometimes people will like in agreement while thinking only short-term and not realize what investment in science actually means. In this day and age where we get bombarded with a huge amount of misinformation, it’s all too easy to quickly agree and continue scrolling.
This is an attempt to quickly answer the question “- Why should we invest in science?
Take the very fact you are on Facebook or the very fact that you are looking at your phone right now. Well, it is because of Quantum Theory! Without quantum mechanics there would be no computers because the most important building block of a computer would not exist – the transistor. In short, the semiconductors development is based on a foundation of quantum mechanics. To quote Wikipedia:
The modern understanding of the properties of a semiconductor relies on quantum physics to explain the movement of charge carriers …
… Developments in quantum physics, in turn, allowed the development of the transistor in 1947 and the integrated circuit in 1958.
The process did not go: “we need some sort of machine which will do the calculation for us” and then Quantum Mechanics was discovered – exactly the opposite thing happened. Scientists more-or-less went where their curiosity took them. They were concerned with nature of light, photoelectric effect, radiation, etc. These kinds of scientific experiments led to scientists formulating the Quantum Theory. After that, the insights into the World given to humanity by Quantum Theory gave scientists knowledge and ideas to design components of modern electronic devices, laser, transistor, etc. And it all started with exploration of something humanity did not know at the time.
Same purpose applies today. The investment in exploration of something we don't know today will solve all kinds of real problems tomorrow. Not only that, but such endeavours inspire generations of people to go into the field of Science and to continue exploring and inventing. This effect then goes into positive feedback–loop – even more, scientists are influenced by those who came before them. And all of this can only mean good news for a country or countries that invest in science since they get to lead the world in the technological advancement.
The previous argument was mostly focused on the utility of science – but there is another very powerful argument. We should invest in science because it answers questions about the world. Science illuminates the cave, looks into unknown and drags the truth out in the open, for all to see. This means – science even gives us the tools and power to decide things that are a matter of ethics – science informs us so that we have the facts before making an important ethical decision. Science helps ordinary people understand the big themes – space, time, the World and our place in it.
Science makes the World a better place. That is it.