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Money is no object

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#1 CygnuS

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 12:07 PM

If money would have been no object throughout the history of science how different would society be today? 

If you like, you could also consider it this way.....if magically from this point forward......money in scientific experiments was no object....what will the future look like?

Of course we would still be limited by brains, time, natural resources etc. 

I suspect that money slows down what we will eventually find out anyways. What do you think? 



#2 Dartguy

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 12:10 PM

I'm sure we would have a colony on the moon by now.  Maybe even Mars.


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#3 RyanSem

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 01:16 PM

I'm reading a book covering the events of the Event Horizon Telescope, and it's amazing how many financial problems they ran into, and how much sooner they would have taken the first picture of a black hole if only they had unlimited amounts of cash. It made me think of this as well. 

 

If money was truly no issue I'm sure we would have landed on many of the solar system's planets and moons by now, or at least be in orbit around them specifically. I'd agree that we'd probably have some sort of permanent moon base set up. We'd probably have sent probes into the supposed oceans on Europa and other icy moons.

 

Just think of all the proposed astronomical missions that have failed due to insufficient funding! There's got to be thousands of hopeful missions that got squashed to make room in the budget for something else. 



#4 ColoHank

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 02:17 PM

If money would have been no object throughout the history of science how different would society be today? 

If you like, you could also consider it this way.....if magically from this point forward......money in scientific experiments was no object....what will the future look like?

Of course we would still be limited by brains, time, natural resources etc. 

I suspect that money slows down what we will eventually find out anyways. What do you think? 

That's the crux of the matter.  Money can't buy everything.



#5 DaveC2042

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 03:46 PM

If money would have been no object throughout the history of science how different would society be today?
If you like, you could also consider it this way.....if magically from this point forward......money in scientific experiments was no object....what will the future look like?
Of course we would still be limited by brains, time, natural resources etc.
I suspect that money slows down what we will eventually find out anyways. What do you think?


The question misunderstands what money is.

It is not a resource, or a thing of value. It is just a label, or a way of accounting for things of value.

So, if you were to instantaneously double the amount of money in the economy, all you achieve is halving what each dollar is worth. This is an example of inflation.

In the real world, this is a very complicated subject, and all manner of odd timing effects occur, but the basic idea is simple and sound.
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#6 CygnuS

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 07:15 PM

The question misunderstands what money is.

It is not a resource, or a thing of value. It is just a label, or a way of accounting for things of value.

So, if you were to instantaneously double the amount of money in the economy, all you achieve is halving what each dollar is worth. This is an example of inflation.
 

I understand all that. Look at the question as if it were a thought experiment because of course it is not practical. Since science requires experimentation and experimentation requires money what would the world be like if it didn't cost a penny and scientists could do anything they wanted? 



#7 DaveC2042

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 07:45 PM

I understand all that. Look at the question as if it were a thought experiment because of course it is not practical. Since science requires experimentation and experimentation requires money what would the world be like if it didn't cost a penny and scientists could do anything they wanted? 

Fair enough. A bit imponderable, though.



#8 BillP

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:54 PM

If funding were no problem for science in general, then funding would probably be no problem for any other endeavor.  That being the case, there would be no hunger or disease and everything else under the sun would be so far advanced that ... ultimately it would not matter as what would not advance would be human beings themselves and how they think and how they just cannot get along whenever the opinions differ in the slightest.  Just imagine no issues with funding for the military of every nation! 


Edited by BillP, 14 January 2020 - 09:55 PM.


#9 DaveC2042

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 10:49 PM

I understand all that. Look at the question as if it were a thought experiment because of course it is not practical. Since science requires experimentation and experimentation requires money what would the world be like if it didn't cost a penny and scientists could do anything they wanted? 

The particular imponderability is that I don't think you can really predict future scientific breakthroughs.

 

If you do, then you have already made the breakthrough, haven't you?

 

So you might be able to say we would have reached our current position, say, 100 years earlier, but I don't think you can meaningfully speculate about what else we would have come up with.  Maybe you can do that with engineering.


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#10 jdk

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 12:12 AM

what would the world be like if it didn't cost a penny and scientists could do anything they wanted? 

 

My instinct is to say that they would turn into normal people. shrug.gif

 

Part of the reason I think science has done so well is that it is historically not lucrative...there's no money in it for your average lab rat. People do it because they actually enjoy the work. If the profession of "science" were immediately flush with resources, it would become as bloated, corrupt, and inefficient as any other human enterprise. 


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#11 Todd N

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 07:18 AM

If money would have been no object throughout the history of science how different would society be today? 

If you like, you could also consider it this way.....if magically from this point forward......money in scientific experiments was no object....what will the future look like?

Of course we would still be limited by brains, time, natural resources etc. 

I suspect that money slows down what we will eventually find out anyways. What do you think? 

Maybe not a whole lot different. Technological advancement can stagnate; There may be only so many ways to perform a function. I was listening some years back to a consumer tech show on the radio where the host made the point that there hasn't been any major advancements in consumer electronics in the last ten years. Judging by WIndows 10 we're actually technologically de-evolving but, I digress. As a kid in the 80's I had this view of the future that by the year 2000 which seemed like this distant epoch where life would resemble something along the lines how the Jetsens looked. Suburbia is more or less the same and will probably look this same way hundreds of years into the future.

 

 

But, if scientist had endless money to perform endless mischief then they could end up destroying the universe in testing experimental rocket fuel; So it goes.


Edited by Todd N, 15 January 2020 - 07:37 AM.


#12 bobhen

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 08:39 AM

There actually is more than enough money to do ANYTHING we want. Just pick a topic.

 

We could go to Mars
We could develop atmospheric scrubbers or other ways to reduce pollution
We could completely divorce ourselves from fossil fuels and reverse climate change
We could employ a completely non-polluting energy generation system
We could eliminate most serious communicable diseases like Measles etc.
We could cure or really impact many of the diseases that impact humanity
We could create AI and super computing

 

And the list goes on and on.

 

There is plenty of money to do some or all of the above and much more. So why don’t we do it?

 

It’s not the lack of funds. And given the time, it’s not even the lack of knowhow.

 

It’s the lack of long-term thinking and goal setting. It’s the lack of political will and political priorities. It’s about keeping people and systems (corporate and political) in power (even though harmful or outdated) rather than empowering the people. It’s about believing that an “unchecked” free market where profit is the “only” priority/goal will somehow do what is good for society.

 

I’ll use the worn-out but appropriate example that we put a man on the moon in less than ten years. And we did that (even without knowing exactly how to do it) because the nation and those in power had the political will to do it. And we did that while fighting a very expensive war!

 

It’s NEVER about the money.

 

Bob


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#13 llanitedave

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 10:14 AM

There actually is more than enough money to do ANYTHING we want. Just pick a topic.

 

We could go to Mars
We could develop atmospheric scrubbers or other ways to reduce pollution
We could completely divorce ourselves from fossil fuels and reverse climate change
We could employ a completely non-polluting energy generation system
We could eliminate most serious communicable diseases like Measles etc.
We could cure or really impact many of the diseases that impact humanity
We could create AI and super computing

 

And the list goes on and on.

 

There is plenty of money to do some or all of the above and much more. So why don’t we do it?

 

It’s not the lack of funds. And given the time, it’s not even the lack of knowhow.

 

It’s the lack of long-term thinking and goal setting. It’s the lack of political will and political priorities. It’s about keeping people and systems (corporate and political) in power (even though harmful or outdated) rather than empowering the people. It’s about believing that an “unchecked” free market where profit is the “only” priority/goal will somehow do what is good for society.

 

I’ll use the worn-out but appropriate example that we put a man on the moon in less than ten years. And we did that (even without knowing exactly how to do it) because the nation and those in power had the political will to do it. And we did that while fighting a very expensive war!

 

It’s NEVER about the money.

 

Bob

Unfortunately, the number of people that were in favor of the Apollo project, even at the time, was a minority.  For a while, even the Vietnam War was more popular.

 

I'm fully on board with Power to the People.  However, I don't expect that will translate to more resources devoted to science, or space exploration.  "The people" don't really care for that stuff.



#14 bobhen

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 11:53 AM

Unfortunately, the number of people that were in favor of the Apollo project, even at the time, was a minority.  For a while, even the Vietnam War was more popular.

 

I'm fully on board with Power to the People.  However, I don't expect that will translate to more resources devoted to science, or space exploration.  "The people" don't really care for that stuff.

I know that is the popular spin but the space race was extremely popular in its day, and with each launch dominated the print media, LIFE magazine, etc., created heroes, and pulled the world together, if only for a few days. And of course, history has proven that the space race/moon program was a much better way to spend money than in Vietnam.

 

An “uneducated” electorate might reflect a “People don’t really care for that stuff” reality. And of course that is one of the issues, as politicians seek to take advantage of that lack of even basic scientific understanding within the electorate in order to stay in power, and instead, play up meaningless, emotional/nationalistic issues.

 

Democracy only works with an educated electorate. Or, if only the educated are allowed to vote. Which was more the norm in the distant past than it is today.

 

Keep an eye on China, as they are experimenting with state-run Capitalism and an authoritarian but highly educated ruling body. Maybe that will work and maybe not. But “so far” that combination has propelled them up the ladder pretty quickly.

 

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter" – Winston Churchill.

 

Bob



#15 ascii

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 12:10 PM

There would almost certainly be some of the wrong people taking advantage of this boon, and it would all end very badly for the rest of us.  How many doomsday weapons do you think we'd end up with?



#16 CygnuS

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 12:15 PM

If funding were no problem for science in general, then funding would probably be no problem for any other endeavor.  That being the case, there would be no hunger or disease and everything else under the sun would be so far advanced that ... ultimately it would not matter as what would not advance would be human beings themselves and how they think and how they just cannot get along whenever the opinions differ in the slightest.  Just imagine no issues with funding for the military of every nation! 

As I said though we would still be limited by our brains and natural resource depletion. I wanted to keep this about just science but your last line makes me think that unlimited science....while it would lead to much good, like spreading into medicine.....would also spread into greater (depending on how you look at it) military capabilities which could lead to a hundred nations with nuclear and highly developed chemical and biological weapons....or even more powerful weapons that we haven't even imagined yet. 

Back to the medicine thought. Would better medicine mean more overpopulation? Could science also solve those overpopulation issues? Even though we are limited by money our experiments just get bigger and bigger and more expensive.....CERN for example...and in my original post I stated that money just slows down what we will eventually know. In the future it will have the ability to solve just about everything. Just think of all the things it has fixed in our lifetimes. Holding off the potential dangers will be the tricky part. 



#17 GoFish

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 12:23 PM

The hypothetical should be “what if effort in science was given priority over all other activities competing for resources?”  

 

Putting more effort into science drains resources from health care, growing crops, arts, defense, education, and on and on.  We can’t spend more on scientific research without spending less in other areas. 

 

So, if we reprioritized and focused more resources on scientific research, and less on other activities, would humankind be better off?  Humankind apparently has decided the answer is “no.”



#18 PXR-5

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 02:05 PM

I feel we would have been to Mars several times, and definitely development on the moon to say the least



#19 B l a k S t a r

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 05:22 PM

There's plenty more for the kitty without cuts, increase taxes. It's really resource based limitations though.  A circum-moonal collider will use a lot of stuff. Cheaper than Earth based too in diameter and vacuum pumps. 



#20 CygnuS

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 12:32 PM

As I said though we would still be limited by our brains and natural resource depletion. I wanted to keep this about just science but your last line makes me think that unlimited science....while it would lead to much good, like spreading into medicine.....would also spread into greater (depending on how you look at it) military capabilities which could lead to a hundred nations with nuclear and highly developed chemical and biological weapons....or even more powerful weapons that we haven't even imagined yet. 

Back to the medicine thought. Would better medicine mean more overpopulation? Could science also solve those overpopulation issues? Even though we are limited by money our experiments just get bigger and bigger and more expensive.....CERN for example...and in my original post I stated that money just slows down what we will eventually know. In the future it will have the ability to solve just about everything. Just think of all the things it has fixed in our lifetimes. Holding off the potential dangers will be the tricky part. 

Woops, I messed this up. In the last 3 sentences I was talking about science and not money. 



#21 bitnick

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 07:13 PM

Back to the medicine thought. Would better medicine mean more overpopulation? Could science also solve those overpopulation issues?

Better medicine doesn't lead to overpopulation in the long run. Right now, the number of adults is increasing due to better health, and then the number of old people will naturally increase, too. But the number of children in the world has stabilised. This is due to mainly two factors: families doesn't have to get a lot of children when the children they do get survive (this is how better medicine helps prevent overpopulation in the long run), and the other factor is education of women (and them taking place in the workforce). No science needed - world population is estimated to stabilise at about 11 billion in 2100. We were 7 billion in 2011; will be about 9 billion in 2035; 10 billion in 2050; and 11 billion in 2100.

 

See this excellent Ted talk by Hans Rosling for a very intuitive explanation of why we continue to grow despite a steady number of children, and why the expected growth is inevitable (unless birth rates suddenly drop or we have some kind of massive die-off): https://youtu.be/ezVk1ahRF78?t=15


Edited by bitnick, 16 January 2020 - 07:14 PM.


#22 ColoHank

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 11:22 AM

Better medicine doesn't lead to overpopulation in the long run. Right now, the number of adults is increasing due to better health, and then the number of old people will naturally increase, too. But the number of children in the world has stabilised. This is due to mainly two factors: families doesn't have to get a lot of children when the children they do get survive (this is how better medicine helps prevent overpopulation in the long run), and the other factor is education of women (and them taking place in the workforce). No science needed - world population is estimated to stabilise at about 11 billion in 2100. We were 7 billion in 2011; will be about 9 billion in 2035; 10 billion in 2050; and 11 billion in 2100.

 

See this excellent Ted talk by Hans Rosling for a very intuitive explanation of why we continue to grow despite a steady number of children, and why the expected growth is inevitable (unless birth rates suddenly drop or we have some kind of massive die-off): https://youtu.be/ezVk1ahRF78?t=15

First, you have to define overpopulation.  Humans are animals, and we have basic needs for breathable air, fresh water, and food.  Our species is also unique in that it places demands on the environment to provide additional material and energy resources.  The production of those resources often poisons the air and water and soil thus has an adverse impact on humans and other species, many of which are being driven to the point of extinction.  Some of those endangered species may indeed be essential to human life in ways we don't fully understand.  Further, our human-devised social safety nets are modeled on the naïve assumption that there'll always be more folks of working age available to support those of us who can no longer work either due to age or disability.  Our technologies, however, are displacing productive humans from the workplace.  Taking all of that into account, what's the carrying capacity of our range?  If there is an optimal number, shouldn't science be working to achieve it and to sustain it indefinitely?


Edited by ColoHank, 17 January 2020 - 12:13 PM.


#23 bitnick

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 11:33 AM

I couldn't agree more. I just wanted to point out that when medicine helps more of us to survive childhood, we apparently naturally moderate our birth rate. I agree this has nothing to do with overpopulation per se.




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