EMBO Reports 11 (7):488 (2010)

Authors
Antoine Danchin
University of Hong Kong
Abstract
The dichotomy between the research to generate knowledge and the application of that knowledge to benefit mankind seems to be a recent development. In fact, more than 100 years ago Louis Pasteur avoided this debate altogether: one of his major, yet forgotten, contributions to science was the insight that research and its applications are not opposed, but orthogonal to each other (Stokes, 1997). If Niels Bohr ‘invented’ basic academic research—which was nevertheless the basis for many technological inventions and industrial applications—Pasteur developed what we might call ‘motivated’ research. How is research motivated and by what? By definition, scientists are citizens and members of the general public and, like the public, they are motivated by two forces: on the one hand, in Rudyard Kipling's words, “man's insatiable curiosity”; on the other hand, a desire for maintaining and improving their well‐being. These are not contradictory to one another; curiosity nourishes dreams of a brighter future and leads to discoveries that contribute to well‐being.
Keywords applied research  societal motivation  academic research
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