Pasteur's Quadrant: Basic Science and Technological Innovation

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Brookings Institution Press, Mar 1, 2011 - Science - 196 pages

Over fifty years ago, Vannevar Bush released his enormously influential report, Science, the Endless Frontier, which asserted a dichotomy between basic and applied science. This view was at the core of the compact between government and science that led to the golden age of scientific research after World War II—a compact that is currently under severe stress. In this book, Donald Stokes challenges Bush's view and maintains that we can only rebuild the relationship between government and the scientific community when we understand what is wrong with that view.

Stokes begins with an analysis of the goals of understanding and use in scientific research. He recasts the widely accepted view of the tension between understanding and use, citing as a model case the fundamental yet use-inspired studies by which Louis Pasteur laid the foundations of microbiology a century ago. Pasteur worked in the era of the "second industrial revolution," when the relationship between basic science and technological change assumed its modern form. Over subsequent decades, technology has been increasingly science-based. But science has been increasingly technology-based--with the choice of problems and the conduct of research often inspired by societal needs. An example is the work of the quantum-effects physicists who are probing the phenomena revealed by the miniaturization of semiconductors from the time of the transistor's discovery after World War II.

On this revised, interactive view of science and technology, Stokes builds a convincing case that by recognizing the importance of use-inspired basic research we can frame a new compact between science and government. His conclusions have major implications for both the scientific and policy communities and will be of great interest to those in the broader public who are troubled by the current role of basic science in American democracy.

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good one should read sometime ..its about making the eco system for innovations.... said int the talk givn by scientist p balram at iisc banglr at 19th nov 2009

Selected pages


Stating the Problem
Forging the Postwar Paradigm
The Concepts of Basic and Applied Research
Static and Dynamic Forms of the Paradigm
The Experience of Science
Science and Technology
Who Reaps the Technological Harvest from Science?
A Paradox in the History of Ideas
Expanding the Dimensional Image
Probing the Framework
Rethinking the Dynamic Paradigm
Implications for Policy
Renewing the Compact between Science and Government
Collapse of the Postwar Bargain
The Opening for Renewal
Strengthening the Case for Pure Research

The Rise of the Modern Paradigm
The Ideal of Pure Inquiry in Classical Times
The Ideal of the Control of Nature in Early Modern Science
Institutionalizing the Separation of Pure from Applied in Europe
Institutionalizing the Separation of Pure from Applied in America
American Science in the Aftermath of World War II
The Reception of Bushs Plan
Transforming the Paradigm
Early Dissents
Official Reporting Categories
Capturing the Benefit in Technology
Institutionalizing a New Compact
Basic Science and American Democracy
Recognizing Scientific Promise and Social Value at the Project Level
Linking Scientific Promise to Social Value at the Wholesale Level
Evaluating the NIH Model
Linking Scientific Judgment with Political Authority

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Page 76 - ... of achievement. To make clear what we mean by this, let us consider cardiac surgery. When general anesthesia was first put to use in 1846, the practice of surgery exploded in many directions, except for thoracic surgery. Cardiac surgery did not take off until almost 100 years later, and John Gibbon did not perform the first successful operation on an open heart with complete cardiopulmonary bypass apparatus until 108 years after the first use of ether anesthesia. What held back cardiac surgery?...
Page 19 - Basic research leads to new knowledge. It provides scientific capital. It creates the fund from which the practical applications of knowledge must be drawn. New products and new processes do not appear full-grown. They are founded on new principles and new conceptions, which in turn are painstakingly developed by research in the purest realms of science.
Page 154 - Hearings before the Subcommittee on Science, Research, and Development of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics, 88th Congress, 1st Session.
Page 23 - A nation which depends upon others for its new basic scientific knowledge will be slow in its industrial progress and weak in its competitive position in world trade, regardless of its mechanical skill.
Page 28 - But as more arts were invented, and some were directed to the necessities of life, others to recreation, the inventors of the latter were naturally always regarded as wiser than the inventors of the former, because their branches of knowledge did not aim at utility.
Page 35 - Eric Ashby: The industrial revolution was accomplished by hard heads and clever fingers. Men like Bramah and Maudslay, Arkwright and Crompton, the Darbys of Coalbrookdale and Neilson of Glasgow, had no systematic education in science or technology. Britain's industrial strength lay in its amateurs and self-made men: the craftsman-inventor, the mill-owner, the iron-master.
Page 65 - Creative work undertaken on a systematic basis to increase the stock of scientific and technical knowledge and to use this stock of knowledge to devise new practical applications.
Page 7 - Basic research is experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundation of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view.
Page v - ... him in confidence on the quality of the work. Publication of a work signifies that it is deemed a competent treatment worthy of public consideration but does not imply endorsement of conclusions or recommendations.

About the author (2011)

Donald E. Stokes was professor of politics and public affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

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