And the Three Billion Dollar Grant Goes to…
If $3 billion were yours to spend on scientific research, how would you spend the money? … For the sake of variety, let’s restrict it to your own particular subfield, so, for example, how would I spend three billion dollars on physics?
If I had three billion dollars to throw at a single area of physics, I would obviously throw it at geophysics – but that kind of smart-alecky answer isn’t going to cut it in the hypothetical world. No, the unspoken terms of the question demand that I spend $3,000,000,000 on a single project in geology. Moreover, the unstated corollary is that all other funding will dry up, with the exception of money to purchase the 3 books and 6 albums that each scientist can bring with them to their desert island field camp.
Chad picked high-temperature superconductivity, and DrugMonkey picked Alzheimer’s research. I pick…
I pick carbon sequestration. Will $3G be enough to develop methods to indefinitely extend our freewheelin’, fossil-fuel-burnin’ ways without climatic havoc? I don’t know, but I suspect that the attempt would be a good way to sneak lots of basic science into a single project of obvious social benefit. Look at the places people have proposed for hiding carbon:
- Deep in the ocean – and WTF do we know about long-term deep ocean circulation, anyway?
- “Deep” in the crust, in a variety of geologic formations (though this is “deep” in the sense that it is expensive to drill a hole, not in the sense that it makes it through a very large fraction of the crust), all of which will require careful, detailed characterization
- Mine tailings, also known as “let’s learn more about the reaction kinetics of mafic minerals”
So what would you pick?