Society and industry
Our society and industry relies heavily on scientific and technological achievements that to a large extent have their roots in fundamental science. Fundamental science, meaning asking questions about the world for the sole purpose of expanding our knowledge, has again and again produced unexpected, and invaluable, ”offsprings”, such as lasers, GPS, computers, new materials, medical treatments, encryption systems etc. These examples make it clear that we need fundamental science, not only to expand out human horizons, but also to be ready for the next leap in technological advances. However, fundamental and curiosity driven science often give rise to societal impact in a longer time perspective, and it may not be clear that a certain research topic has any applications until much further into the future. This makes investing in fundamental scientific endeavors a difficult task, but one which history shows is highly rewarding.
On the level of the individual university, the need for a wide range of basic, curiosity driven scientific research is a matter of future capability, as much as it is a trademark of scientific excellence. Every research university must stand ready to grasp the latest ideas coming from all over the world. The best way to do this is to support a broad range of fundamental sciences. The readiness of the university to grasp new scientific and technological concepts also have an important influence of industry and society. Industry will gain from a university that has the competence to bring new knowledge to applications. The university is also be an important source of knowledge and information for schools and the general public, and as such it must be ready to present and explain new fundamental scientific findings.