I some time shake my head at some of the twisted priorities we often have, and how little we value science, which is the seed for many of the future economic growth.
I was reading a report on the future headquarters for Apple that have been dubbed as the Apple "Spaceship". Maybe it looks like a spaceship to the general public (or reporters), but to me, it looks like a synchrotron center! :) But what caught my eye was the current projection of the cost to be at $5 billion. Now mind you, this is an OFFICE COMPLEX, costing $5 billion!
Since it looked like a synchrotron light source, I decided to look up ballpark costs of a synchrotron source being built right now, and I know of one - the NSLS II that has just been constructed at Brookhaven. I suppose I could scout around more carefully at what it cost to build this, but I found an early estimate for it, and it costs around $1 billion. Now, this is not just the building, but also includes all the "content", which is the accelerator complex, the storage ring, etc.. etc. Anyone who has deal in purchasing scientific equipment can attest that these components are not cheap, especially when they are custom made.
Now, obviously, I haven't compared the floor space and size of these two buildings, but c'mon! An office complex costing almost 5 times the cost of a complex, complicated, and an extremely important scientific facility? What do they have? Solid gold toilets? Or maybe they are secretly housing a particle collider in there to challenge the LHC! Coming to your nearest Apple Stores: the iCollider!
For $5 billion, we can do a lot of things in science that will produce immeasurable benefits and advancements. But until society realizes the value and how they have benefited from such investments, and until people who have rather short attention space realizes just how far in advance they have to invest into science to reap its benefits, this upside-down skewered priorities will never correct itself.