An academic grant worth the cost of an aircraft carrier?

WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 07:  U.S. President Barac...
Ting receives National Medal of Science Image by Getty Images via @daylife

What you say if you got a $1.5 BILLION grant?  Samuel Ting (Nobel Prize laureate, 1974, MIT professor) got precisely this amount over 10 years to put a new experimental device in space. The device was meant to detect anti-matter. Although intriguing, the practical implications of this experiment are rather obscure. The questions, called “earth shattering” by The Guarding correspondent sound rather tame “Where do cosmic rays come from? Could there be galaxies made of antimatter on the other side the universe? And what is the true nature of dark matter?”

Ting’s saga, which started with a project estimated at 30 million, shows how  in the Federal funding world money begets money. It also begs the question: what could’ve these money bought in terms of scientific progress or social utility? Equivalent to the cost of small aircraft carrier, the 1.5 billion could’ve supporting 1500 medical research labs for three years. I am not sure how many medical research laboratories are in the United States, but it is possible that their number is comparable to this figure.  Although an old piece of news, the experiment came back to the forefront with the announcement that the last flight of the space shuttle Endeavour will finally attach the device to the International Space station.

Space Shuttle Endeavour delivers P1 truss to t...
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Sorin Adam Matei

Sorin Adam Matei - Professor of Communication at Purdue University - studies the relationship between information technology and social groups. He published papers and articles in Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy. He is the author or co-editor of several books. The most recent is Structural differentation in social media. He also co-edited Ethical Reasoning in Big Data,Transparency in social media and Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (Computational Social Sciences) , all three the product of the NSF funded KredibleNet project. Dr. Matei's teaching portfolio includes online interaction, and online community analytics and development classes. His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort . Dr. Matei is also known for his media work. He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and several leading Romanian newspapers. In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars), Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).

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