According to America’s Committee on Economic Development, the tremendous technological development of the 20th Century owes credit to basic research. After World War II, United States concentrated huge funds on basic research, building a strong scientific base and an energetic scientific community. Its leading position in computing, biotechnology and a host of other fields is a direct result of that basic research. The economic benefits it reaped are already mentioned above. In view of such tremendous success, continuous and proportionate funding of basic research would appear a logical conclusion. But that is not the case. Laboratories and research centers have been down-sized, funds have been reduced, the older companies are cutting back on research and the younger companies are simply ignoring it. It is the aim of this paper to study the role of basic research in technological changes and the impact of government policy on its future. Basic research is usually a risky undertaking. Since it is exploratory in nature it is neither possible to predict what one will find nor what the ultimate utility of that find would be. Yet it has led to a no of developments in every walk of life. Thus, in the words of Earnest L Eliel, the President of American Chemical Society in 1992, “Rosenberg's research on the potential effects of electric fields on cell division led to the discovery of an important cancer drug; Kendall's work on the hormones of the adrenal gland led to an anti-inflammatory substance.; Caruthers' work on giant molecules led to the invention of Nylon; Bloch and Purcell's fundamental work in the absorption of radio frequency by atomic nuclei in a magnetic field led to MRI. Development of gene splicing by Cohen and Boyer produced, among other products, better insulin. Haagen-Smit's work on air pollutants spawned the catalytic converter. Reinitzer's discovery of liquid crystals is about to revolutionize computer and
The following paper "Role of Basic Research in Technological Change" seeks to outline the contributions of basic research to the technology change or improvement. The growing realization of the importance of basic research has triggered many policy changes…
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