"I have been thinking about how I can make use of such a prominent position to benefit my colleagues. It is difficult to find funding at the moment, especially for subjects which don't obviously have an immediate application for something that will make money.
"But the people who discovered magnetism and electricity had no idea what they could be used for. The MRI scanner wouldn't exist without particle physics. There are so many spin-off industrial investments in things that are being researched, and we need more of this."
There's only so far that one can run away with this. People "...who discovered magnetism and electricity..." had, in their corner, empirical evidence to at least tell them if they are on the right path or not. This is where the analogy to pursuing String Theory breaks down and the similarity ends. I don't believe that there has been, in the history of physics, a study in a field of physics that has gone for so long, and garnered THIS much attention, that has been totally devoid of any empirical evidence which indicates one way or the other that it is on a right path. For many of us who value physics as being guided by empirical evidence, this is the most troubling aspect of String theory.