It’s really hard to get funding for pure science just for the sake of figuring out how things work. It’s a lot easier to get funded if you have a practical application for things. … The more you realize you don’t know very much, and there isn’t an end point. So there’s always more to be done — there’s just not as much funding for it anymore.
Mary Roach, whose latest masterpiece of provocative popular science, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, is out this month, echoes Marie Curie (“One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done…”) in this interview on The Millions.
Complement with Alexander Flexner’s indispensable 1939 meditation on the usefulness of useless knowledge.