Science’s role in society is to discover how the universe works, and later find applications for this research to improve the world we live in. A lot of scientific research is directly targeted towards solving a problem. Some of the most exciting CRISPR research is focused on curing human diseases by editing our genes, and the Riders for Health are creating vehicles and other health transport solutions to solve an immediate problem. However, not all research needs to be this targeted. When I went to a lecture by Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson, he said that it is important to fund a wide variety of research, even if we do not see the immediate applications, because often the practical use comes after the discovery. For example, Einstein wrote a paper on the emission and absorption of radiation in quantum theory, which didn’t really have any applications at the time. However, this paper paved the way for the later development of the laser, which has applications in numerous fields, such as medicine, manufacturing, and the military. Without funding research on a topic that seemed isolated to only fundamental particles, we would not have laser surgery, laser cancer treatment, and many modern imaging techniques. While it is important to work towards solving specific problems with science, we should keep an open mind towards all research, no matter how isolated it seems, as we may not know the great impact it will have until later.
It is important that the general public is informed of scientific advancements. BRAC is an organization based in Bangladesh that educates people on basic public health that would otherwise not have access to that information. As we learned in Delivering the Goods, BRAC has dramatically improved the lives of the people living in these areas. They have also conducted relevant research, such as a simple remedy for diarrhea in children that can easily be implemented by mothers. When developing new technology and medical advancements, it is easy to forget that what we take for granted isn’t available everywhere. Thanks to organizations like BRAC, more communities are gaining access to important medical knowledge and technology.