Posted by: Jamie | January 28, 2010

Lofty Ideals

Thanks to a recent speaker here at my uni, I have a new favorite quote.

Dr. Robert Wilson (Fermilab’s first director), when testifying before the Congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, was asked by Senator John Pastore how a multimillion-dollar particle accelerator improved the security of the country. (This was in 1969 but that question sure sounds familiar.) Wilson replied that it had nothing at all to do with security. When Pastore pressed him further, Wilson responded (emphasis mine):

It has only to do with the respect with which we regard one another, the dignity of men, our love of culture. It has to do with: Are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean all the things we really venerate in our country and are patriotic about. It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to make it worth defending.


  1. A side note: the person whose presentation from which I mooched this quote is now a post-doc in my lab. ^_^

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