Sunday, May 08, 2005

Update on Privately Funded Science

On March 10, I wrote about funding pure science through donations, rather than depending on public funding. In some cases, government funding only supports specific views or goals, similar to Thomas Kuhn's "paradigmatic science".

On May 9, however, the Cosmos 1 project, a prototype ship being launched from a Russian submarine. The project is supported and sponsored by the Planetary Society, Cosmos Labs, Lavochkin Association and the Space Research Institute in Russia. The Planetary Society boasts that the project is being supported by its members, who donate regularly to support space-focused research.

This is a very exciting project. Not only is it testing a technology that may one day make it possible to "sail" in space using gigantic solar sails, but it is testing the technology for the benefit of pure science. If this trend continues to grow, it may be possible to fund more projects in such a way - imagine a society that works to promote science out of its own interest.


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