Gravitational-Wave has cost American taxpayers about $1.1 billion. Unfortunately, federally-funded science is a zero-sum game. More spending on one project means less spending on others.

in one sense it would be utterly unsurprising. That’s because it is the logical prediction of a theory that has been around for a hundred years.

Jogalekar adds that “some sources are already calling the putative finding one of the most important discoveries in physics of the last few decades. Let me not mince words here: if that is indeed the case, then physics is in bad shape.”

In an email to me, a historian of technology was more blunt: “So a 100 year old theory has been confirmed experimentally–big whup. Did anyone think Einstein was wrong? There wasn’t any controversy, was there? Was anyone credible claiming that spacetime isn’t curved, or that black holes don’t exist? I can get that this was quite an experimental trick and technological feat… But this isn’t doing anything to convince me that public funds spent on this stuff wouldn’t be better spent on medical research. Or clean fuels, or any number of things that would apply scientific expertise toward justice or the alleviation of human suffering.”

Much as we’d like to believe that science can be done by lone geniuses, toiling in their basement laboratories, the fact of the matter is that discovering the fundamental secrets of the universe doesn’t come cheap.

Taking all of those costs into consideration, the total cost of finding the Higgs boson ran about $13.25 billion.

Nuclear bomb discovery cost? Manhattan Project cost? $20 billion

War on cancer cost?

More than 40 years after the war on cancer was declared, we have spent billions fighting the good fight. [ADD Picture] The National Cancer Institute has spent some $90 billion on research and treatment during that time. Some 260 nonprofit organizations in the United States have dedicated themselves to cancer—more than the number established for heart disease, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke combined. Together, these 260 organizations have budgets that top $2.2 billion.

and meanwhile irrationally exuberant futurists can talk of achievable immortality in our lifetime (with arguments that don’t even come close to passing the straight-face test) when there’s no cancer cure in sight.

It might do exuberant futurists some good to spend a little time pondering the fact that roughly $20,000 in anti-cancer research money has been spent for every single person in the U.S. who has died of cancer in the last 40 years; and yet cancer is still the No. 2 cause of death in America; and after it’s gone, after it’s cured once and for all, this No. 2 Cause of Death, we will have extended human life a grand total of (drum roll, please) a whopping 3.3 years (loud cymbal-crash).

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