Crazy science – but is it crazy enough? – Craig Stevens

Crazy science is just what the doctor ordered, writes NZ Association of Scientists president Dr Craig Stevens about the Marsden Fund.

An excerpt (read in full):

The Marsden Fund is precious taxpayers’ money awarded to some of the nation’s cleverest minds, for ideas that have the potential to be simply brilliant. Sometimes the ideas help solve a problem we can all identify with, but more often they seem plain crazy. And that’s the idea.

Five years ago in this newspaper, Sir Paul Callaghan asked us to “value the weird stuff”, arguing that we needed to walk a line between something that the world needed, but remained niche enough that it wouldn’t just disappear overseas. This perfectly weird stuff must come from somewhere.

Your favourite champion rugby team doesn’t just focus on the split second the ball goes over the line. They put endless hours into defence and midfield training in order to make that happen. Ideas and research skills can have the same bumpy road where they get knocked around and maybe only one or two finally get over the line.

In science and humanities, “the line” is not a single thing. Yes, it is about generating wealth, but it is also about healthy and happy kids, a liveable climate, a valued environment, an understanding of our place in the world and more besides.

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