Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Absurdly Artificial Divide Between Pure and Applied Research

This is a valiant essay at trying to convince people of the artificial divide between pure and applied physics. However, I think the author didn't go far enough and didn't do it that well because he missed many important examples. I also didn't quite understand how his point is strengthened by the example he gave towards the end of the essay.

What could have been more illustrative is the "feedback mechanism" that is involved between what is typically considered as "fundamental, pure physics" such as elementary particle, field theory, etc. and what is considered to be "applied physics" such as condensed matter physics. I've mentioned several examples, such as the Kondo effect and the principle of spontaneous broken symmetry, that actually came out of condensed matter that have now become part and parcel of "pure physics". The study of magnetic structure in materials CAN and HAS been shown to provide insight into fundamental questions of our universe.

These are the example the author should have shown. I think he missed a golden opportunity.


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