We are compiling a list of reasons why Science is Vital. This will be useful for when we meet our MPs at the lobby, and for raising support in protesting the proposed cuts.

We want to demonstrate that without science we would have no way to develop and evaluate new medicines and therapies; we would have no web and the incredible financial potential that this technology has delivered; that we would have no power to keep the lights on, and no hope of developing new sources of clean and renewable energy.

Scientists and engineers working in universities and institutes, for government, in industry and for charities, have and are daily contributing to the UK economy and to our prosperity and wellbeing. Please leave a comment below telling us your story of why Science is Vital – feel free to add links to strengthen your case.

Categories: Evidence

24 Responses to Why do YOU think Science is Vital?

  1. Alessio says:

    Science is vital, if you don’t care, have a look on situation in Italy and see the future we have.

  2. Francois Genolini says:

    Oil spill in gulf of Mexico: a combination of good science, solid engineering, military precision and good leadership.

    NHS weeding out of costly, dangerous and time wasting unproven “alternative” treatments. This is a policy driven by medical science successfully employed in the UK.

    In times of tough spending reviews, science can help cut funding where needed, backed by evidence, and new cheaper adapted alternative services can be engineered. Scientifically rigorous fraud detection (data mining) can be used to detect abuses. Scientifically / objectively run constant monitoring of policy / regulation performance can guide and advise policy making (Plato’s Republic and Laws 😉

  3. I’m writing this reply on a website. The web was invented by a British scientist, Tim Berners-Lee.

    To do this, I’m using a computer, which uses the mathematics created by a by a British mathematician, Alan Turing, to run.

    It’s got various components like that transistor, PCB and so on and it uses an LCD screen .. developed by engineers following scientific discoveries and along scientific principals.

    The LCD screen is a replacement to my old CRT screen invented – shockingly – by a British engineer, along scientific principals.

    The computer uses electricity, telephone wires and satellite signals. ALL of which .. were discovered by scientists and utilised by engineers.

    My dad leant me the money (well game me) to buy my first CRT.. but he would’t have been able to if he’d have died a few years ago when he had heart problems. Fortunately, a firm scientific understanding of the human body and some clever drugs (stains) and an operation to put a stent in meant he didn’t die .. so was alive to lend me the money.

    None of this was bought about by the arts. None of it was bought about by sports. None of it was bought about by homeopathy.

    It was science, mathematics and engineering.

    Science is – and always will be – vital.

    And it’s not just the useful stuff that’s vital. The “useless” pure research .. well that’s vital too. And not just because it illuminates our lives as human beings and gives us meaning .. but because .. there’s no such thing as useless research. All of it adds to our body of knowledge .. and so much that was once thought “pure” has now been applied.

    Number theory is a prime example .. once thought of as totally useless it’s now used in encryption techniques that allow ecommerce to happen.

    But why not leave it to other people? Why not let the Americans and the Japanese do the science?

    Well, it’s stupid to do that .. that’s why. Research brings money into this country .. why let other people have that money?

    Science is vital to this country’s economy.

    Art and sport are great. Homeopathy not so much. But Science IS vital.

  4. Paul Browne says:

    Science certainly is vital.

    A great recent example is the use of brain cooling combined with xenon gas to prevent brain damage in infants who suffer oxygen starvation during birth.

    http://speakingofresearch.com/2010/04/16/a-noble-cause-protecting-babies-brains-with-xenon/

    This medical advance happened because of basic and applied research performed at Imperial College London and the University of Bristol.

    Of course it’s but one example of many, but shows exactly what is at stake.

  5. Ivan Vučica says:

    Innovation, research and development create new products which drive the economy. Ignoring science means ignoring future opportunities.

  6. Caitlyn says:

    Science provides a concrete, definitive way to determine what is true and what is not; what works and what does not. (It has limits, of course, but it covers quite a lot.) People who cannot think scientifically have no way to reliably determine what is true, and as a result they can be fooled by coincidence or charisma or their own ideology. If scientific thinking is not encouraged and rewarded, very few will bother to use it, and we will have no defense against quackery and charlatans, and no way to make our conditions better than they are.

  7. I owe my life to Science – not a divine plan, but that is not why I admire it, nor why I see it as the pinnacle of civilization and evolution. The scientific method is the only mechanism by which we can circumvent our confirmation biases and propensity for self-delusion and understand our tiny, but truly awesome place in the universe. It is valuable because it simply does not care what results we want from it, it gives us the truth regardless. We have written ourselves out of the equation. The examination of everything: the tides, the stars, bacteria, Stevie Wonder’s groove, photons, blood cells and galaxies, serves to enrich and extend all our lives, in ways that no religion or pseudoscience could begin to dream. Why lower our heads and claim to have easy answers, when we can look up to the skies and tackle the hardest questions?

    It is only through this humble but insatiable curiosity, skeptical examination, rational reflection and furtive unweaving, that the rainbow becomes yet more beautiful.

  8. Diana says:

    Science is beautiful.

    I learnt about structural defects in compounds and macromolecules in my Inorganic Chemistry lectures. These defects are beautiful because defects are thought to be un-usable and unwanted but in Chemistry, these structural defects ARE useful and are widely applied in medicine and industry. Science is vital because you can see your pre-conception of ideas (like the word “defects” in this case) challenged. Such things stimulate the mind and enrich our living. Science can be poetic and beautiful.

  9. Jakov Marelic says:

    “One day sir, you may tax it.”
    Michael Faraday’s reply to William Gladstone, then British Chancellor of the Exchequer, when asked of the practical value of electricity (1850)

  10. Timothy David Cruise says:

    Because science will take us back to the stars in perfect immortal bodies. Who doesn’t want that?

  11. Michelle Brook says:

    I’ll quote Bill Bryson in The Daily Telegraph (link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/8025142/Bill-Bryson-Have-faith-science-can-solve-our-problems.html)

    “Think of a single problem confronting the world today,” says Bill Bryson, in full rhetorical flow. “Disease, poverty, global warming… If the problem is going to be solved, it is science that is going to solve it”

  12. PhilTheA says:

    In scientific competitiveness, the UK is top of the league, even though a decade of extra investment failed to even catch up with the levels in the rest of the G8. Government spending on science is only a fraction of what the UK spends on public service broadcasting, to say nothing of sport etc or the cost of city bonuses. Where do policymakers think the best chances lie for the UK to remain able to compete in the global economy? Is it really true that the financial sector is the safest bet given recent experience? Given the numbers are so pitifully small, and the risks associated with cutting what little is invested in science are so large, can reductions in this area make any sense for a country trying to recover from a finance sector led recession?

  13. Jacqueline Hughes says:

    Why Science is Vital

    As I considered this, I was conscious of the smallpox vaccination mark on my left arm, nearly invisible now, and how living in times of relative comfort the benefits of scientific research are taken so much for granted that they also have become almost invisible.

    Public funding for Edward Jenner’s research into vaccination were over 200 years ago, £30,000 altogether was a fortune at that time; also costly was the parliamentary decision in 1840 to provide free vaccination for the nation. Since then, research continued, improving the vaccine, its storage and transport and the methods and materials of vaccination. All work done by largely by researchers unknown to the benefiting public, all publicly funded, until in 1979, the World Health Organisation declared smallpox an eradicated disease.

    It is so easy to forget the benefits we already enjoy, so if you want to know how many it killed and what it looked like, please view the Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smallpox. Then think about whether or not investment is science is vital.

    My daughter doesn’t have a vaccination mark because it was eradicated. I doubt very much that members of parliament in Jenner’s time considered my daughter when deciding to invest in research, but their decision has indeed proved vital, protecting life.

    This is just one of many reasons why I think the investment we make now in science and engineering research is important. It’s not just about personal advantage. There is no guarantee that I will benefit from today’s research; it is unlikely that I will ever meet the people who will benefit from my argument today if it is successful. But to weigh down future generations with the burden of struggling to catch up with other nations in the competitive world of science and engineering research would be short-sighted, narrow-minded and churlish. It would be against life.

    Science is vital.

  14. Ultimately, science is an investment in the future of the economy. This investment comes (primarily) from two directions – the research output, and the education of the next generation of scientists and engineers.

    If the UK wants a high-tech economy (meaning high paying jobs which pay high taxes, intellectual property income, and the prestige of being at the forefront of the expansion of the human race’s understanding of the universe) the UK must take a long-term, robust, consistent approach to funding research and making that research translate into commercial/economic development.

    There are many ways to do this but consistent funding (on a annualized, inflation proofed basis) is critical. Another improvement would be to decrease the paperwork and wasted time that researchers like myself must endure to get things such as hiring, purchasing, grant writing, and teaching done.

  15. Erik Finlow-Bates says:

    Science first and foremost encourages rational and critical thinking along with the ability adapt and change our ideas based on hard evidence. Without science and the scientific method we will forever be shackled to bronze age superstitions which ultimately holds back the human race by promoting ignorance.

  16. v0idation says:

    Science is vital because we have evolved culturally beyond our ability to live without it. Turn off electric power, and our society will fail, as banking, medical services and communication all become impossible. Half of us can’t even see straight without wearing a device to correct our vision. We can’t find our own food, or clothe ourselves, or defend ourselves. We have forgotten how. Our increasing sophistication makes us more and more dependent on a precarious platform of technology, supported by a relatively tiny number of knowledgeable people.

    Please don’t bring our civilisation even closer to collapse by cutting bits off our only functioning crutch.

  17. Marieke Navin says:

    Today, in my job as science communication officer at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, I have visited the mass spectrometry company Waters UPLC in Wythenshaw, Greater Manchester. As a science communicator I helped to develop some science busks, i.e. some simple demos that communicated some of the science behind mass spectrometry, that we can take out into the streets of Wythenshaw and make the general public aware of some of the science behind mass spectrometry. Why? With an aim to inspire the next generation of potential scientists with a seed of curiosity to understand the world around them and to make them aware of some of places that a career in science could take them. Why is it vital? Every newborn baby in the country has a heel prick blood test to identify two rare conditions: phenylketonuria and congenital hypothyroidism, saving many lives every year. Every drop of blood collected this way is tested in a Waters mass spectrometer. Every new drug onto the market is also tested in these machines. Without scientists developing and improving these machines created using fundamental physics, how would we test for diseases and disorders and create new drugs? This is just one example of why science is vital.

  18. Lesley Mitchenall says:

    Tiny Britain is never going to be able to manafacture its way out of recession we simply do not have the resources, the financial institutions are in crisis so what does that leave us with…services, tourism and above all science?! Government funded science actually brings money into this country not only from the innovations that come from it but also from the 100s of thousands of students that come to live and study here.

    I currently work at the John Innes Centre, Norwich. heard of it? probably not! But it is arguably the best plant and microbial instsitue in the world with more citations, by a long way, than Berkely, Max Plank, Cambridge Uni, in fact than any other institute world wide and it has been independantly estimated (2008 data from an independent report by DTZ)that we alone bring in £170 million annually to the British economy, not bad for a direct annual investment of just £12 million p/a but still we are still being cut! Crazy! Science is a soft option for cuts but this is not a time for complete stupidity by Government. British science always punches well above its weightbut for God’s sake don’t stop feeding it or the Goose that can lay the golden eggs will be no more!

  19. Jeremy Green says:

    Science is vital if we don’t want to hand a significant deficit to our children – a deficit of knowledge and technological capacity. Nick Clegg used this argument about not handing debt to our children to defend the cuts, but everyone is willing to invest for enhanced prosperity and quality of life that science brings.

    Despite Germany’s budget cuts, the German government has the sense to keep investment in Science. Our scientific system is already more efficient than theirs, based on all the relevant indicators, so cuts in our science budget will cause real damage to our competitive standing. Science is vital to sustain our competitive edge.

  20. Pingback: Science is Vital: Message from Dr Jenny Rohn | Coalition of Resistance Against Cuts & Privatisation

  21. I remember many years ago, during the City boom time, I went to a pub in London that was obviously visited by many City people. One of the suits chatted me up and asked me: what do you do? When my answer was, I am a scientist, his reply was: “Poor thing”, and turned his back on me.

    This is what we are for these people: poor things.
    Why? Because we work long hours for little pay, we are driven by passion and curiosity and not by greed, and we don’t care about status symbols and fancy outfits. It appears that this mindset still rules the ruling classes and politicians.
    As a community, lets answer this disrespect with the following statement:

    We are not “poor things”, we are rich.
    We are rich, because we create knowledge, and don’t just shuffle money around.
    We are rich, because we are passionate about what we do.
    We are rich, because we are useful for society and don’t just suck in money for our own private gains and take it away from society. We give something back. Knowledge and technology.
    We are rich, because without us, progress would grind to a halt.
    We are rich, because we don’t just take, we give.
    We are rich because we are the people who do one of the noblest thing mankind can do: We work in science and we do research.
    We are rich, because we have not caused the current financial problems, but we are the solution and in our heads are the future resources of our society. In our heads are all the future adventures. Nowhere else.

    And this is why Science is Vital.

  22. James says:

    Is science vital for us to live?
    No.
    Is science vital for us to eat?
    No.
    Is science vital for us to live WELL, to eat WELL, to improve ourselves?
    Yes.
    Is science vital for us to develop economically?
    Yes.

    You could stop science now, and people would still remember all of the improvements science has already brought us. Other countries will almost certainly develop breakthroughs to help us improve as well, though without the significant impact of the UK the rate of improvement would certainly go down. HOWEVER if our nation wants to stay competitive in a world where we are already out competed in terms of production, size and influence then surely the only way to manage this is to invest in our future.

  23. Jane Summers says:

    As well as essential to economic development,Science is a vital part of a truly liberal education system. If we are not supporting and developing The Sciences, then we cannot celebrate our eduction system. I am not a scientist and I am not always happy about the application of scientific findings or some research methods but I am aware that we all have to support each other whatever our discipline against any attempt to diminish our education and research provision.

  24. Rob Kenworthy says:

    We should think of ourselves as UK Plc in competition with USA Plc and India Plc and China Plc.
    Innovation comes from higher thinking at University level where ideas are escalated and great inventions materialise. How do you think we got Concorde and the Harrier jump jet and how do you think we became the 2nd biggest Pharmaceutical industry in the world? Why are we having to fight for investment into science when other countries around the world are doing it automatically without thinking? They’ve got the picture, our government hasn’t even picked up the camara yet.

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