The Big Idea: Research Pays Off in Unexpected Ways

Should research turn a profit? That’s what a few would-be higher-ed reformers argue. But academics say research is a long-term investment. Take the recent likely discovery of the Higgs boson. As far as profit goes, the Higgs is in the red: finding physics’ “God particle” cost billions and took decades. But along the way, says UT physicist Steven Weinberg (who won a Nobel Prize for early theoretical work), researchers invented vital new technology. And a data-sharing method developed by physicists eventually became the Internet. You can’t put a price on that.

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Illustration by David Plunkert.


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