Scientists, engineers and funding

David Bruggeman wants clarification on my desire to see more public engagement from historians and philosophers of science.  I’ll pass on that for now because it’s hard to think during the baseball game.

For some light reading, check out Colin Macilwain’s column over at Nature.  Macilwain is rapidly becoming one of my favorite science columnists, and here he discusses growing tension between scientists and engineers in Great Britain.  I found this quote interesting:  “there is a general attitude among the scientific community that science is superior to engineering.”

My research career has traversed from numerical relativity to radiation belt remediation in the department of electrical engineering.  As such, I’ve gotten to know a fairly broad cross section of both scientists and engineers.  In my experience there may be a small superiority complex amongst scientists, but it is very small.   Perhaps it’s a generational thing, but many theoretical physicists I know thoroughly accept that their work may not be that important, and they’re 0ften very grateful that society decides to fund their (not immediately useful) research.  I suspect part of the bluster Macilwain detects is masking a degree of insecurity.  But that’s a topic for a different post!

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