Pasteur’s quadrant

by Judith Curry

The savage budgetary pressures we will have at least into the 21st Century are part of the reason why we must attempt to develop a fresh contract between science and government. – Donald Stokes

The linear model of science to policy is summarized on the blog Shaping Science, illustrated by this figure:

research linear

Of the numerous alternatives/critiques that I’ve seen, I think that Donald Stokes’ Pasteur’s quadrant is the most provocative in suggesting a new model that seems broadly applicable across the different sciences.  Stokes has written a book entitled Pasteur’s Quadrant: Basic Science and Technological Innovation.  The punchline of the book is encapsulated in this article by Stokes [link].


A great deal of the vision of the nature of basic science and its relationship to technological innovation is contained in two aphorisms in the Bush report. Each was cast in the form of a statement about basic research – a term that was given currency by the Bush report.

The first of those aphorisms is that basic science is performed without thought of practical ends.  Bush made it quite clear that the defining characteristic of basic research is its attempt to find more general physical and natural laws to push back the frontiers of fundamental understanding.

What that aphorism came to mean, instead, was that there is an inherent tension between the drive toward fundamental understanding on the one hand, considerations of use on the other, and by extension, a radical separation between the categories of basic and applied science. Bush went on to endorse a kind of Gresham’s Law in which an attempt to mix the applied and pure in research was sure to result in the applied driving out the pure.

Having written that canon of basic research, Bush wrote down a second. It was that basic research is the pacemaker of technological improvement. If you insulate basic science from short-circuiting by premature thoughts of practical use, it will turn out to be a remote but powerful dynamo of technological innovation – the advances of basic science will be converted into technology by the processes of technology transfer, moving from basic to applied research, to development, to production or operations, according to whether the innovation is a new product or a process.

It is interesting to note that both those canons came to be captured by very simple, one dimensional graphics. The first was represented by the ever-popular idea of a spectrum of research from basic to applied. The dynamic version, the second canon of basic research, was represented by the equally popular idea of the linear model that moves from basic research to applied research via the processes of technology transfer. [The] third element in Bush’s argument is the notion that the nation will recapture the technological benefit of its investment in basic science.

Admiring as we all can be of the success of the paradigm view set out in Science: The Endless Frontier and its ushering in of the Golden Age of American science, the incompleteness of this view of the nature of basic science and its relationship to technological innovation has been increasingly clear.

Let’s first of all return to the first of Bush’s canons, that basic research is performed without thought of practical use. The rise of microbiology in the late 19th Century is a conspicuous example of the development of a whole new branch of inquiry because of considerations of use, not only the quest of fundamental understanding.

And that example is not a solitary one. Lord Kelvin’s view of physics was profoundly industrial and inspired in substantial part by the needs of empire. The work of the synthetic organic chemists over the turn of the century as they laid the basis of the chemical dye industry, and later, pharmaceuticals, was equally a melding of those two motives. Keynes sought an understanding of economies and their dynamics at the most fundamental level, but he sought that to lift the grinding misery of depression.

I have created a little bit of graphic reasoning to try to move one step in a more realistic direction. This array presents a new model of scientific research, which provides a more accurate depiction than Bush’s linear model. I call it “Pasteur’s Quadrant.”

Research is inspired by:

  • Considerations of use? No Yes
  • Quest for fundamental understanding?  No Yes


[This represents] a two-dimensional conceptual plane, with the vertical dimension representing the degree to which a given body of research is motivated by the quest of fundamental understanding, and the horizontal dimension the extent to which it’s motivated by considerations of use.

Take a moment to consider the quadrants that are presented. The one at the upper left is for the pure voyages of discovery, the voyages of Newton. Let me call it Bohr’s Quadrant, since there were no immediate considerations of use in mind as Niels Bohr groped toward an adequate model of the structure of the atom; although note that when he found it, his ideas remade the world.

The quadrant at the lower right might be called Edison’s Quadrant since Edison never allowed himself or those working with him in Menlo Park five minutes to consider the underlying side of the significance of what they were discovering in their headlong rush toward commercial illumination.

But there certainly is “Pasteur’s Quadrant,” for work that is directly influenced in its course both by the quest of fundamental understanding and the quest of applied use – the sort of quadrant that supplies a home for what Gerald Holton has called, “work that locates the center of research in an area of basic scientific ignorance that lies at the heart of a social problem.”

Indeed, we’re going into the 21st Century with two closely interwoven trends: one, which is commonplace, is that more and more technology will be science-based. The other, which is still very widely under-appreciated, is that more and more science will be technology-based in just the sense that I’ve expressed and not merely in the sense of instrumentation, which has been important in Western science at least since the time of Galileo.

If we were to present a rival image for the one-dimensional linear model, it would be much more like the rise in fundamental scientific understanding and the rise in technological know-how as two loosely coupled trajectories. They are loosely coupled because the increase in scientific understanding is, at times, the result of pure science with very little intervention from technology, while the increase in technological capacity is often the result of engineering, design, or tinkering at the bench, in which there is no intervention by fresh advances of fundamental science. But at times, each of those trajectories profoundly influences the other. The influence can go in either direction with use-inspired basic research often cast in the linking role.

If the society was told that a heavy investment in pure science would produce the technology to handle a full spectrum of society’s needs, it was bound several decades later to stop and say, “Now just a moment, we have some unmet technological needs. Indeed, we have some that have been created by the technology spun off of your science – the deal is off.”

It must make the case for continued societal investment in realistic terms of the problem-solving capacity of science, terms that command the support and enthusiasm of the policy community and the country behind it.

JC comments:  There is a growing trend in U.S. science to focus on ‘use-inspired’ basic research, e.g. Pasteur’s quadrant.  This is evident in NSF proposal requirements, which require addressing ‘broader impacts‘ that includes benefits to society.  More explicitly, a recent call for NSF SEES proposals stated:

In order to enhance the broader applicability and transferability of this research, linkages within and between universities; research centers; state, local, and tribal governments; community organizations; federal agencies and national labs; and private organizations are encouraged. Engaging partners and stakeholders in the early phases of problem identification and definition, and iterative subsequent engagement can lead to novel paths of scientific inquiry and facilitate application of new scientific insights. Proponents are also encouraged to look for synergies with existing activities, facilities, networks, and centers.

With regards to climate science, the concern that I have is that there is too much research in the lower half of Stokes’ diagram, scoring low on making advances to fundamental understanding.  Applied research that is useful and used is a good thing, but at the end of the day I don’t see all that much applied climate research actually getting used by decision makers.  The primary problem being that there is too much focus on the climate models, and the climate models are not yet up to the task.

This leaves us with the unnamed 4th quadrant, which is often characterized as ‘taxonomy’, i.e. research that is neither useful nor contributes to fundamental understanding.  Climate model taxonomy is characterized by endless analysis of IPCC climate model runs and projection of ‘dangerous impacts’ . If these are not being used by decision makers, then they are in the 4th quadrant.

More research in the upper half of the diagram, please.  In the ‘use-inspired’ box is arguably climate model development research to support the IPCC.  This is ok (we definitely need better climate models), but I think too much funding for this mostly ends up feeding the relatively pointless 4th quadrant research.  I really like the NSF SEES model for use-inspired research, which is stimulating massively interdisciplinary research that has the potential to be useful and used, while at the same time advancing basic understanding of newly defined knowledge frontiers.

In the pure basic research box lies the really tough challenges, including solar physics, synchronized chaos, multiphase dynamics, turbulence, mixing in the deep ocean, etc.   There is unfortunately far too little activity in this quadrant, and better climate models and the attendant applications do depend on this very basic research.  JC note to NSF, universities, and professional societies: How to stimulate more activity in this quadrant is a key challenge for our field – too many of the ‘rewards’ are going to climate model engineering and taxonomy.

134 responses to “Pasteur’s quadrant

  1. Gotta love a graph that shows all funding for basic research coming from the government.

    From the notoriously conservative Wikipedia: “According to OECD, around two-thirds of research and development in scientific and technical fields is carried out by industries, and 20% and 10% respectively by universities and government.”

    But I suspect it is too much to ask that government funded scientists understand this.

    • I had the same basic thought, Gary. In any case, I’ve come to believe that government by its nature is almost always a corrupting influence.

    • “According to OECD, around two-thirds of research and development in scientific and technical fields is carried out by industries, and 20% and 10% respectively by universities and government.”

      Doesn’t that mean all research and development rather than basic research?

      • David Wojick

        Yes Maxok, most basic research is government funded and done at universities. How could it be otherwise?

      • I believe this includes all R&D, basic, applied, technology, etc. So it is surprising on first hearing that the government basic and applied research is not the majority. But upon reflection, think of the thousands of private foundations (Lung Society, Cancer Society, etc.) plus all of the thousands of businesses large and small that put money into R&D for their new processes and engineering. As Bastiat said: “look not only at what is immediately obvious, but also at what is first unseen” (paraphrased)

    • Gotta also love the nebulous “social benefits”.

    • Of course the figure at the top is the purest strawman, because while the vast majority of basic research is funded by the government as one progresses along the chain, increasingly industrial funding creeps in and by the development stage the government part is pretty much DOD and SBIR. What the figure also misses is that a lot of “results” fall out of the chain as one moves toward implementation. Kill the stalking horses and sell them for IKEA meatballs.

  2. The pipeline from Federal $$$ to Social Benefits has been clogged with fear and loathing since Einstein’s most basic discovery that E = mc2 in 1905 was used to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

  3. A quadrant has been left blank.
    A tension produced by a tensor product.

  4. A while back I tossed in a suggestion off the top of my head: have a relatively light tax on fossil carbon, probably when it’s dug out of the ground/sea-floor, but allow the companies owing it to instead spend it on research with some arguable relevance to renewable energy (rather than giving it to the government). Let them keep limited patent rights on the result, less than they’d get with research they’d freely invested in, more than nothing.

    While we’re at it, the money collected by the government could also be earmarked for research with similar relevance, although between government waste, and spending it on Solyndra-type boondogles, it probably wouldn’t do as much good as the industry guided expenditures.

    Of course, any particular company might just pump the money into a vehicle for diverting (part of) it back to company officers (or their cronies). But each company would have an incentive to spend it on potentially useful research, since patents and other rights coming out of it would become valuable assets. And diversions would be as much criminal acts as similar diversions of any other corporate assets.

    This seems like a thread where the idea is relevant.

  5. David Springer


  6. Steve McIntyre

    In my first job after university (in the early 1970s), my then boss (Douglas Wright, former Dean at the University of Waterloo and then a Deputy Minister in the Ontario Government) frequently used the Pasteur example. He had been one of the leaders in building Waterloo from nothing into an important institution. He was a strong advocate of the idea that many important theoretical advances came from trying to gain insight on interesting applied problems. And that “pure” research was too often working on arid problems leading nowhere.

    It’s not hard to think of appropriate candidates to name the useless fourth quadrant after.

    • Would working out the physical constants of a bunch of chemicals nobody knew of a use for fall into this fourth quadrant? How about duplicating the (low profile) experiments of other scientists to verify that their results were repeatable?

    • David Springer

      Steve McIntyre | May 15, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Reply

      “It’s not hard to think of appropriate candidates to name the useless fourth quadrant after.”

      Yes. The usual suspects. ;-)

    • “It’s not hard to think of appropriate candidates to name the useless fourth quadrant after.”
      Yeah, mann. I have no idea who might fit in there like a puck in a goal.

    • There should also be a negative direction for people later proved wrong, such as todays climate-change denialists.

      • Jim D

        How about if today’s climate alarmists are “later proven wrong”?

        Seems like the “low-low” quadrant would fit like a glove.


      • Jim D | May 16, 2013 at 12:18 am said: ” later proved wrong, such as todays climate-change denialists”

        GLOBAL warming denialists, NOT climate change denialist!!!

        repeat after me: -” climate is in constant change; summer to winter climate, wet to dry climate, BUT there is NO such a thing as GLOBAL WARMING” Can you remember that? .

    • The problem is Steve, you never know when something jumps from bottom left to top right.
      A bunch of microbiologists were interested in the bacteria that lived at the pressure cooker conditions on volcanic vents at the bottom of the ocean. They sampled, grew, characterized them and examined their biochemistry. The enzymologists were interested in how enzymes functioned at such high temperatures and found many enzyme that are sluggish at 37 degrees work great at 80 degrees.
      Then you couple an enzyme system that works at 37 but not at 80, with one that works at 80, but not at 37, through temperature cycling you can sequentially run a number of stepped cycles.
      Thus was born PCR and from it the ability to sequence DNA rapidly, which you can use to catch criminals (DNA finger printing), examine cancer cell genetic aberration (personalized medicine) or examine evolution in the biosphere.
      Simple, basic, microbiology and biochemistry created a big chunk of the biomedical industry.
      Just who the hell cared about the future used of high temperature/pressure dependent bacteria in the 60’s and 70’s?

      • The enzymologists were interested in how enzymes functioned at such high temperatures and found many enzyme that are sluggish at 37 degrees work great at 80 degrees.

        Why doesn’t this fit in the top left (Bohr) quadrant?

      • AK, perhaps I may explain the dog-leg.
        1) Microbiologists. How do these damn things grow? What do they need and how good are they doing stuff.
        After the knowledge base in growing and harvesting cells enters the literature, anyone, including biochemists, can grow them.
        2) Biochemists. Just how the hell do their proteins, RNA’s and DNA work at such high temperatures?
        3) Molecular Biologists. If we had a pair of enzymes with a on/off and off/on switch pairing we could synthesize huge copies of RNA/DNA using a specific primer.
        4) Alec Jeffreys. If we could use primers to regions that are both diverse and hereditary, then the Passport office would know if a person applying for a visa was a blood relative.
        5) forensic scientists. We could prove that a blood/hair folical/semen sample belongs to a particular individual, this is going to be better than finger-printing.

      • @DocMartyn…

        So are you saying step 1 would qualify as lower left? I can’t see step 2 qualifying. Even step 1, wouldn’t the process of working out how to harvest and culture “bacteria” growing in a new environment qualify as “Bohr”?

        I can see routine searching for a “sp. nov.” paper as lower left, even thermophiles, alkalinophiles, and sea-bottom vents, once the techniques have been worked out.

        But here we run into a semantic problem. If somebody is tackling the engineering problem of, say, harvesting bacteria from a deep sea-floor vent, does their work qualify as “Edison” because they’re focusing on a practical application, or “Bohr” because their goal is original, “exploratory” research?

        And then there’s spin-off: when something designed to facilitate original research ends up being much more widely useful. IIRC there’ve been several very important cases like that, although I can’t recall the details.

    • Nice!!!

  7. It’s not hard to think of appropriate candidates to name the useless fourth quadrant after.

    Stay classy, Steve, stay classy.

    Nothing like staying above the juvenile and tribalistic fray, eh?

  8. Don Stokes was my American mentor. He has been dead for some years now, alas, and is one of the three most penetrating intellects I ever encountered, the other two being Fred Hoyle the astronomer and Jack Caldwell the demographer. We had some discussions about the argument of his book while it was being prepared, and it came out through the help of friends and colleagues in the US, after he had died.

    I think he would have found the AGW issue an agreeable one for his kind of analysis, which would have been searching. In work of my own at the time (I’ll see if I can find it), I had a title for the fourth quadrant, which included the world ‘propaganda’. But ‘evidence-based policymaking’ would serve, too.

  9. Maybe climate science belongs in the blank quadrant?

  10. An example of use-inspired research:

    Pasteur publicly claimed he had made the anthrax vaccine by exposing the bacilli to oxygen. His laboratory notebooks, now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, in fact show Pasteur used the method of rival Jean-Joseph-Henri Toussaint, a Toulouse veterinary surgeon, to create the anthrax vaccine. This method used the oxidizing agent potassium dichromate. Pasteur’s oxygen method did eventually produce a vaccine but only after he had been awarded a patent on the production of an anthrax vaccine.

  11. Noblesse oblige:

    > The rabies vaccine was […] first used on 9-year old Joseph Meister, on July 6, 1885, after the boy was badly mauled by a rabid dog. This was done at some personal risk for Pasteur, since he was not a licensed physician and could have faced prosecution for treating the boy. After consulting with colleagues, Pasteur decided to go ahead with the treatment. Meister did not contract the disease. It is sometimes said that Pasteur saved the boy’s life, but this cannot be maintained with certainty, since the risk of contracting rabies after such an exposure is estimated at around 15%.


  12. David Springer

    Articles on the interface between science & gov’t belong in the unnamed quadrant. There’s a name for it. The Wool Gatherer’s Quadrant.

  13. Steven Mosher

    I prefer the blank quadrant. Fundamental understanding is over rated, and being of use is boring and full of politics. Three cheers for Cladistics.

    • Agreed. This is where many university instructor/researchers labor, anyway. Especially the biologists. No chance of being corrupted by fame in this neighborhood.

  14. Speaking of epistemic dichotomies:

    A search for consensus about the methodology of discovery among physicians and physiologists led the author to identify a crucial anomaly of medical historiography: in general, physicians stress the significance of clinicopathologic method, while physiologists emphasize the experimental. Hence, physicians and bench scientists might be perceived as members of epistemically distinct research traditions. However, analysis of the historical development of discoveries in medicine, exemplified by case studies in physiology, bacteriology, immunology, and therapeutics, reveals that the epistemic dichotomy is illusory. Both physicians and bench scientists discover in the same way: by identifying and explaining clinical anomalies. It is argued that the sociological role of experimentation is to dramatize clinical hypotheses and not test them in a Popperian sense.

    The concept of dramatizing hypotheses might deserve due diligence.

    • This kind of looks like epistemologyology.

    • Some call this philosophy of science, and in this case philosophy of medicine.

      The study of Bernard’s blunders shows craftsmanship. That Pasteur would rather convince himself that he was lucky instead of giving proper credits to Roux, his assistant, enlightens our quadrant quite well too. People should not trust Monty Python for an accurate portrait of contemporary philosophy.

      • I tend to see the “philosophers of science” as back-seat drivers or Mondy-morning quaterbacks. Real scientists have their boots on the ground in the midst of battle, the PoS’s, well, philosophize about it.

      • Mondy should be Monday.

    • Steven Mosher

      ” by identifying and explaining clinical anomalies.”

      yes, that is why hiding the decline and ditching that data was a bad idea.

      • Abbott Laboratories agrees.

      • Steven Mosher | May 16, 2013 at 12:09 am said: ”” by identifying and explaining clinical anomalies.” yes, that is why hiding the decline and ditching that data was a bad idea.”

        Not just hiding the decline; but the WHOLE idea of promoting the phony GLOBAL warming was a very bad idea. I GLOBAL warming soon doesn’t eventuate; Mosher, lolwot, Gates and their crackpot will be looking funny without testies!

  15. Luck favors the fortunate.

    > Remarkably, Louis Pasteur’s personal library made its way to California thanks to Bern Dibner, a philanthropist with a passion for the history of science and boundless esteem for Louis Pasteur.

  16. The first of those aphorisms is that basic science is performed without thought of practical ends.

    Although this may be rare, it was certainly the case for one very successful US chemical company.

    In the chemical industry in the USA, it is generally known that DuPont has consistently been the leader in coming up with innovative new products.

    Other companies have had a better record in developing streamlined and cost-efficient manufacturing processes or in marketing their products more successfully, but DuPont remained the leader in inventing new products.

    This may have changed, but for years there was a basic research department near Wilmington, Delaware that simply worked on creating new molecules, without any pressure from a business group, marketing department or manufacturing organization.

    Sure, the “ultimate thought” by top management was to come up with a “practical end”, but the researchers were allowed almost total freedom from practical schedules and deadlines, etc. in performing their work.

    Researchers in this group came up with Nylon, Kevlar, Teflon, and many other block-buster products.

    • DuPont was founded in 1802 by Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, using capital raised in France and gunpowder machinery imported from France. The company was started at the Eleutherian Mills, on the Brandywine Creek, near Wilmington, Delaware two years after his family and he left France to escape the French Revolution. It began as a manufacturer of gunpowder, as du Pont noticed that the industry in North America was lagging behind Europe. The company grew quickly, and by the mid 19th century had become the largest supplier of gunpowder to the United States military, supplying half the powder used by the Union Army during the American Civil War.

      Block buster indeed.

    • Max_Ch, don’t forget Corfram or whatever that stuff was called.

      • Max_OK

        It was Corfam (artificial shoe leather that “breathed”), and it proved to be a total loss (cracked in sub-freezing temperature and the shoes literally fell apart). DuPont had other losers, as well – but the big winners far outweighed the losers.



        Everyone knows the history of the DuPont company. And, yes, it started as a gunpowder mill. So what?


      • > So what?

        The practical ends and the governmental means did not stop there.

        And let us note that the ‘start’ spans over half a century.

    • Producing poison gas in World War I enabled America’s new, university-trained chemical engineers to demonstrate their skills. Over the next two decades they gradually transformed DuPont from a shop-based powder and explosives business into a science-based mass producer for consumers (less revolutionary consumer items preceded nylon). This shift gave them their own methodological identity and helped legitimize their profession through its identification with technological progress.

      Meanwhile, DuPont’s traditional family leaders feuded politically with the New Deal. Yet the company warily accepted the government’s invitation to join the World War II Manhattan Project and produce the plutonium essential to its fruition. Besides being a feat of research in nuclear physics, Manhattan was an industrial program based on DuPont’s decades of experience in chemical mass-production techniques. Ndiaye contributes to the literature a significant analysis of how, in the process of building the plants at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington, the chemical engineers imposed on the physicists the organizational and methodological ways—the technological culture—they had perfected in developing nylon. The chemical engineers benefitted from an affinity with the project’s military engineers that was not only cultural but political, as the DuPont men were more conservative than the left-tending physicists.

      A pentagon of independent research.

      • Willard

        Exactly what point are you trying to make with your ramblings?


      • wee willie, you’re silly

      • Using duPont as a parangon of basic research might very well be the most disingenuous trick MiniMax ever played, and Joseph Ducreux knows how many he tries every day.

      • Steven Mosher

        ‘ parangon of basic research?”

        Huh? that is not at all how I read what he wrote. Everybody knows that company research is heavily directed by use cases. However, there are a few companies, Du Pont in the past being one, where some fraction of researchers are just left alone. I did not see him as making a case that DuPont was a “paragon”, rather he seemed to be offering them up as an example.

        One day I had the pleasure of spending the day with the head of research for a large Japanese company. He funded a unit I worked for. He explained his philosophy as we walked in his garden. . “my research teams are flowers. I throw down seeds and see what grows. I don’t care what you do. I dont care if you make money. I like to watch things grow. If you grow, I may transplant you.” Of course other parts of the company made huge amounts of money to fund his garden. But those gardens exist.

      • Anyone who read Vonnegut Jr. can understand why managers would leave researchers of the military-industrial complex alone. As for other kind of researchers, it would be interesting to know if Google employees are doing basic research with the side projects they pursue with 1/5th of their time. In any case, being left alone does not entail doing basic research.

        MiniMax only muddles Stokes’ point, which is rather muddled already. Stokes does seem to ignore why what we call Research & Development is not called Finding & Application. Sometimes, mathematicians become quants by mere serendipity, but whatever the practical uses of their discoveries, there’s always a problem to be solved.

        If this model is supposed to revolutionize the way science is being practiced, we should look at a case base. A glance at grant application should suffice to see what “advancement of science” really means. Now, where can we see grant applications?

      • Steven Mosher


        Your reading of him was un charitable. As is your reading of what I wrote. Work harder to find the truth in what I say.
        And yes, being “left alone” does not entail doing basic research.
        Who said it did? I do know from experience that it is a neccessary condition, but it is hardly sufficient.

        Some questions. How many labs have you worked in? How many labs have you had weekly contact with? Is all your knowledge based on books?

      • MiniMax commented on this:

        > The first of those aphorisms is that basic science is performed without thought of practical ends.

        Here was MiniMax’ comment:

        > Although this may be rare, it was certainly the case for one very successful US chemical company.

        This comment conflates two possibilia:

        P1. Performing research with no particular end in mind.

        P2. Performing research with no practical end whatsoever in mind.

        Stokes had P2 in mind when he spoke of the ancient model of knowledge.

        I doubt DuPont ever pursued P2. They even might be liable if they did without gaining lout in return, which is a practical end. In fact, one has to wonder if the funding agencies finance much of this so-called basic research, which reminds me of what Feynman thought of science anyway.

        Yet another episode of identity politics for scientists. This, above all, should be included into that blank quadrant. Not that this has no practical end: it seems quite important as a mean to fight tribalism.

      • Damn tablet. Klout, not lout.

      • It’s a damn good thing we had DuPont. In Germany, I.G Farben was doing worse things in cahoots with its government. Sometimes, you have to fight fire with more fire – giving Hitler and Hirohito daisies probably wouldn’t have worked. Recall that Hitler stated WWII in the first place.

        “IG Farben held the patent for the pesticide Zyklon B[20] (used in Holocaust gas chambers), and owned 42.2 percent (in shares) of Degesch (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung) which manufactured it. IG Farben also had managers in Degesch’s Managing Committee. Of the 24 directors of IG Farben indicted in the so-called IG Farben Trial (1947–1948) before a U.S. military tribunal at the subsequent Nuremberg Trials, 13 were sentenced to prison terms between one and eight years. Some of those indicted in the trial were subsequently made leaders of the post-war companies that split off from IG Farben, including those who were sentenced at Nuremberg.[citation needed]”

      • Letting subalterns doing “independent research” can be useful:

        After more than three years of research, the Ford Motor Company released a study that it says proves that it had no control over what happened at the subsidiary, Ford-Werke, and that it did not profit from wartime operations at the German plant.


        The total number of laborers at Ford-Werke is unknown, but it is estimated that the Ford subsidiary employed 4,000-5,000 workers over the course of the war. The highest confirmed number at any one time during the war was between 2,000 and 2,500. Forced labor was used most of the time, but inmates from the Buchenwald concentration camp worked as slave laborers at Ford-Werke late in the war.

        Ford hired two experts to watch over the development and release of the report. Lawrence Dowler, formerly a librarian and archivist at both Harvard and Yale universities and a noted authority on research methodology, was commissioned to assess the thoroughness of the research and the report process. Author and university professor Simon Reich, one of the world’s foremost scholars on the automotive industry in Germany during the World War II era, reviewed the report as it was being compiled and consulted with Ford on the issues raised by the investigation. Reich produced an earlier report as well, The Ford Motor Company and the Third Reich. Though no one has suggested any bias on the part of Dowler or Reich, some in the Jewish community, notably the World Jewish Congress, believed the study should have been done independently.

        While not admitting any culpability, Ford has made a number of contributions in the name of corporate responsibility. Ford contributed $13 million to a $5 billion fund created by the German government and industry for slave and forced laborers. Ford also announced along with the release of the report that it was donating $4 million toward human rights studies, primarily focusing on the issue of slave and forced labor. The company also is establishing a new $2 million center to be affiliated with a university, and it plans to give $2 million to a humanitarian fund at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that helps Holocaust survivors.

        Was Simon Reich doing basic research?

      • Dupont was always product oriented. Bell Labs are different beasts in the sense that the research at Murray Hill was always more self directed, curiosity driven but the freedom was bought through a long time record that the work done there supported ATT. Bell Labs Holmdel was the more directly applied research lab and the two worked in tandem.

        The flow was bidirectional. As system managers encountered problems they could direct inquiry up the chain until an answer was found. It is a mistake to think that Murray Hill management had no concern with ATT prospering. Freedom had its price.

  17. The National Science Board recently prepared a report for Congress on research and development and the science and engineering workforce.

    “The Board highlights the following findings in this report:

    • Businesses and industries that perform R&D exhibit a greater likelihood of innovation. Though very few businesses conduct R&D (3%), the private sector accounts for the majority of R&D performed in the U.S. (71% in 2009).

    • Basic and applied R&D that the private sector is unlikely to support sufficiently requires sustained, direct funding by the Federal Government to create a knowledge base of potentially transformative ideas that are critical building blocks of innovation.

    • Investments in R&D by the private sector may decrease during times of economic distress. The Federal Government has increased its own R&D investments during the last two economic downturns, which – though not directed for that purpose – countervailed industry declines in the early and late 2000’s.

    • Public funding is essential to sustaining the excellence of public research institutions that play a significant role in the U.S. innovation system. However, state funding for public research universities decreased between 2001 and 2009, while enrollment and university costs increased. As a result, funding per student declined significantly and the cost of education that must be covered by other funding sources has increased substantially.

    • Federally funded academic R&D is instrumental in creating and sustaining a world-class higher education system that prepares the next generation of American scientists and engineers and also attracts and trains high ability international students, researchers, and faculty.

    • Appropriate visa policies enable the attraction and retention of the best and brightest foreign born students, faculty, researchers and S&E workers.”

  18. JC said:

    This leaves us with the unnamed 4th quadrant, which is often characterized as ‘taxonomy’, i.e. research that is neither useful nor contributes to fundamental understanding.

    I suggest the type of research Professor Lewandowski does would fall in the bottom left corner of the bottom left quadrant.

    • So would a good part of the agenda driven research that went into IPCC’s AR4 WG1 (and WG2/WG3) report.

    • verytallguy

      Yes, the Lewandowski research is very uncomfortable reading for some denizens and provoked a furious reaction.

      The intellectually curious might consider why the denizens might wish it disappeared.

      [Denial] …a psychological defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead…

      Source: wiki

      • I sometimes wonder if “denial” is a trait that is shared by people on both sides of the debate on AGW!

      • It’s a very fine example of projection, warmists calling the skeptics deniers. Warmists deny climate change (to various extents) and use Orwellian Climate Change. In order to believe in AGW one has to deny some (or all) of the climate change.

      • It’s very “intellectually curious” that people need Lewandowsky, Freud or Wiki to describe something so commonplace.

        Source: me

      • The vast majority of “warmists” are also in denial regarding the political, economic, and ultimately military risks of the drastic “solutions” they advocate.

      • verytallguy, Freud had a young women as a patient who told him the reason she was unhappy was because she was being raped by her father. Sigmund couldn’t believe that a nice middle class gentleman would behave this way so he postulated that she was lying to herself and him, driven by envy of the male member.
        Thus I have a hard time accepting Freud as an expect on denial.

  19. Bad news for nuke power fans. Japanese reactor may be shut down permanently.

    The Japanese must regret putting so many eggs in the nuke power basket.

  20. The UN is not particulaly good at doing what it was setup to polotics: witness its failure to stop the slaugther in Syria. It was never set up ti do scientific research. It was set up by politicians who volunteered thir meieorology staffs who were indeneral not trained in scientific resaarch. So we have the mess caused by the IPCC.

    • Beth Cooper

      Alexander Biggs,
      The non-democratically elected decision makers of the UN ,
      for their record in peace keeping and achieving millennium
      goals would, if a democratically elected organization, have
      been voted out long ago.
      A serf,

    • The UN is not particularly good at doing what it was setup to politics: witness its failure to stop the slaughter in Syria. [atypical typos corrected -hro]

      That is an understatement, if ever there was one! Before the slaughter in Syria, there was the slaughter in Srebrenica, in Rwanda, and in Darfur.

      These days, Canada’s national broadcaster, the CBC, does very little programming to commend itself. [viz its recent blatant cheer-leading for IPCC Lead Author, Andrew Weaver – who was recently elected BC Green solitary member of the provincial legislature]

      So I was very surprised to catch on the popular CBC radio program “As It Happens” last night, an interview with Mukesh Kapila, whose “whistle-blowing” book, Against a Tide of Evil is now on my must read list.

      Could it possibly be that the UN’s ever-escalating scary climate/biodiversity stories, promoted by various and sundry pseudo-scientific Panels, platforms, Conventions, Road-Maps (and Gaia knows what other acronymic else) are a blatant and oh-so-convenient attempt to divert attention from its abysmal performances and failures at accomplishing that for which it was founded?

      Nah … must be just coincidence, eh?!

      • Agree Hillary,
        If the decision is made to go in to a problem international
        situation without solid on the ground info and with fuzzy
        aims, but perceived as powerful protector of human rights,
        you give give a false sense of security to the defenceless ,
        that sets them up for disaster. Which is what took place in
        Rwanda, thx to the in – adequate – over – rated – bureau –
        cratic, – silk -shirted coterie of the U -night -ed nay -shuns.


      • Hilary and Belinda

        I think the UN in general and politicians in general were neatly summed up by one of my favourite quotes;

        “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”.

        H. L. Mencken

      • Fellow serfs and especially tony, researcher – of –
        the – long – slow – thaw, – do – not – be – afraid.
        Malthus, Erlich, Hansen are men of yester – year.
        Let our politicians serve the serfs in building the
        open society once again. Hopes fer a better –
        can – do – world!. Live, learn, laugh, love and
        dance the tango…ole.

  21. David Wojick

    The very wrong thing about this graphic is that almost all scientific work is in the lower left quadrant. Revolutions are rare, in science as in life, and that is a good thing.

    • Not sure I agree. Also not sure I disagree. I think a lot of research is in the top right hand corner. It is both fundamental and applied. A lot is in the bottom right as it is technology and engineering development. However, when I think of a lot of the lower level papers (let’s not even include climate science here)
      from all over the world, you may be correct. Studying what a fish eats in a particular bend on a small stream in Georgia neither advances fundamental understanding nor has much in the way of real applications. Many weak papers on naturally occurring antibiotics (a field I’m familiar with) simple scrape some slime off yet another critter and test it under one or two conditions and publish the results. Does not contribute much to either fundamental understanding that will lead to new developments and is definitely not applied research. Now one day, someone may find that the slime they scraped works at 10 or 100-fold lower concentration and then it MAY contribute to fundamental understanding and will probably lead to an application.

      • David Wojick

        My view is the Kuhnian model of science. My analog is the prospector and the miner. The prospector finds the ore deposit but it takes many miners to get it out and make it pay. Normal science is mining great ideas. How many people have worked on the atom since Bohr? In the aggregate their work is extremely important but individually they are just miners. Science is not a lottery where you either hit big or lose. Science is a mine.

      • David Springer

        Most prospectors don’t prospect for a living. Most of them would starve if they did.

  22. David Springer

    The linear model of science in the first figure in the OP is not representative of the real world.

    It would be a manifold with 5 inlets and 6 outlets. Dollars would flow to all 5 inlets with valves to adjust the amount each gets. Politics to a large degree determines adjustments. Of the outlets 5 of them would empty into a sewer because that’s where many of the results end up. The 6th outlet would be practical applications that benefit society but there would also be a cross pipe back to the sewer to relieve subjective pressure about what’s beneficial and what isn’t. Not everyone agrees that, for instance, nuclear power which includes both good and evil uses is of net benefit. Another example would be GM crops which may or may not be viewed as beneficial.

    As with many things the author over simplifies something very complex to the point where it has little value or insight left in it i.e. it belongs in The Wool Gatherer’s Quadrant.

    • I think you are being too pessimistic. All of those pipes leading to the sewer would also have smaller pipes leading off that will occasionally garner great benefits to either understanding or to an application. If all the money is voluntarily spent/contributed to the research, it is not a problem. When lots of money is taken by taxes and then wasted, it causes resentment. Also, remember that even negative results or weak results can be important. 100 weak but similar results can add up to an important conclusion and negative results (if they become known) can prevent people from heading down a dead end.

      • David Springer

        A manifold still allows progression in the single horizontal path presented.

    • David, when I first saw the diagram, I almost wrote that the linear model was discredited decades ago, that there are many feedback loops in innovation, etc, that the process is much more complex. However, I read Stokes’ paper and realised he understands that, his presentation of the linear model is as a starting point rather than something of current value.

  23. Re: “basic research is the pacemaker of technological improvement.”

    Vishal Mangalwadi shows the opposite – that Christian monks led the technological revolution in the middle ages BEFORE the Christians led the scientific revolution. See: The Book that Made Your World
    Ch 7 Technology: Why did the monks develop it?
    Ch 13 Science: What is its source?
    ISBN: 1595555455

  24. bob droege

    How about calling it the William Proxmire Golden Fleece quadrant?

  25. Most government funded research, like climate research, is not “pure” research at all. It is agenda driven. Designed to help increase the power, scope, and tax revenues of government.

    Government funded research is just as results oriented as that of private industry. It’s just that the intended beneficiaries of private research is ultimately the general public.

    (And by the way, “government funded” is a bit of an oxymoron. It just means that the people were forced to pay for it by the government through taxes.)

  26. David L. Hagen

    Canada moves towards Pasteur’s Quadrant
    Canada Sells Out Science

    In a stunning announcement, the National Research Council—the Canadian scientific research and development agency—has now said that they will only perform research that has “social or economic gain”. . . .
    John MacDougal, President of the NRC, literally said, “Scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value”. Gary Goodyear, the Canadian Minister of State for Science and Technology, also stated “There is [sic] only two reasons why we do science and technology. First is to create knowledge … second is to use that knowledge for social and economic benefit. Unfortunately, all too often the knowledge gained is opportunity lost.”

    Research council’s makeover leaves Canadian industry setting the agenda

    the NRC is consolidating its disparate operations into a dozen business units and will focus on just five core areas of research: health costs, manufacturing, community infrastructure, security, and natural resources and the environment.

  27. David Wojick

    The problem with climate modeling is that they are aping weather models, trying to be applied when the questions are still fundamental. But this is because the funding is policy driven.

  28. Let the government continue to fund basic research as it has been doing.

    Two areas stand out for cuts, though, at least from my perspective.

    1. Climate change science is stuck in a politically correct trench that they can’t get out of. Isolate the most important basic physical research questions and fund them, maybe increase funding. Cut way back on the applications of the big global models that won’t get us any closer to the truth(s) until the basis science is right.

    2. Reduce EPA’s air pollution research and regulatory budget.

    Here is why: almost all conventional air pollutants are now pretty well controlled, to incredibly well controlled. Lead and CO are down 99% (lead) and about 95% (CO). SO2 and NO2 hardly ever violate the new, very low standards. Ozone is an issue, but natural background ozone can come close to creating a violation of proposed new standards — and the constantly improving vehicular emissions standards will keep bringing ozone down. Particulates are way down from 30 years ago. We have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams in creating pretty clean air almost everywhere in the US, despite all the rhetoric you hear. Just look at the levels of any of these air pollutants now, vs. when the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970. Then compare that to what the Sierra Club and NRDC and their co-religionists say.

    What may be happening now is mission creep. We have many bureaucrats at EPA with long term jobs they won’t want to leave, they have substantially fulfilled their mission. So now they claim that ANY particulate, anywhere, emitted by humans or nature, will kill you. According to them, there is no safe limit for any emission whatsoever. Talk about a lifetime employment act!

    In order to justify their required cost-benefit analysis, they now claim than any person who might die even a day earlier than they would otherwise, is “worth” almost $10 million for the cost benefit analysis, on the benefit side. Yet it turns out that researchers think that of those people who might die early because of particulate air pollution, perhaps half of them are already on the brink, and will be dead within a week. If such people are not given a $9.7 million price tag for dying a day to a week early, EPA’s cost benefit analyses go out the window.

    This is how bureaucrats justify their existence, out of the public eye. If conservatives cry foul, well they hate you, they are irrational tea party types, and their denigration keeps the issue from being discussed.

    For the record, I vote D, and I’m not anywhere near the Tea Party.

    If it strikes you that this type of viewpoint (EPA’s) puts way too much emphasis on tiny levels of particles, and not enough emphasis on creating jobs (because businesses won’t build in “non-attainment areas,” it is too expensive), then it is time to declare victory and cut back EPA’s regulatory staff.

  29. This explains so much.

    Progressives are a bunch of wimps. No wonder they long for a strong mommy state to protect them.

  30. Pingback: These items caught my eye – 16 May 2013 | grumpydenier

  31. David Springer

    Weakling Quadrant?

    On Drudge Report today

    Men who are physically strong are more likely to have right wing political views

    •Weaker men more likely to support welfare state and wealth redistribution
    •Link may reflect psychological traits that evolved in our ancestors
    •Strength was a proxy for ability to defend or acquire resources
    •There is no link between women’s physical strength and political views

    Men who are physically strong are more likely to take a right wing political stance, while weaker men are inclined to support the welfare state, according to a new study.

    Researchers discovered political motivations may have evolutionary links to physical strength.

    Men’s upper-body strength predicts their political opinions on economic redistribution, according to the research.

    The principal investigators – psychological scientists Michael Bang Petersen, of Aarhus University in Denmark, and Daniel Sznycer, of the University of California in the U.S., believe that the link may reflect psychological traits that evolved in response to our early ancestral environments and continue to influence behaviour today.

    Professor Petersen said: ‘While many think of politics as a modern phenomenon, it has – in a sense – always been with our species.’

    In the days of our early ancestors, decisions about the distribution of resources were not made in courthouses or legislative offices, but through shows of strength.

    –more at link above–

    • > In line with their hypotheses, the data revealed that wealthy men with high upper-body strength were less likely to support redistribution, while less wealthy men of the same strength were more likely to support it.

      • David Springer

        Suggest you download the full paper here. I think you misunderstand the portion you quoted out of context.

        The paper finds that those males with high upper body strength will assert it for their own best interest. The strong wealthy male defends his property and the strong poor male tries to take property from others. The weaker in both categories neither try to take or defend because if they assert they lose. The paper calls this The thesis predicts that women, whether wealthy or poor, act the same as weak men.

        What effect would these intense, long-enduring selection pressures have had on the subset of decision-making machinery that evolved to regulate conflict? The asymmetric war of attrition
        (AWA) is one of the best validated models in behavioral ecology (Hammerstein & Parker 1982; Maynard Smith & Parker 1976), and is supported by scores of empirical studies across all major vertebrate classes (Kelly 2008). Its central premise is that greater fighting ability leads animals to bargain for a disproportionate share of contested resources (Kelly 2008; Huntingford & Turner 1987; Smuts et al. 1987). Lesser fighting ability leads animals to more readily cede resources they cannot cost-effectively defend. It is a fitness error for weaker contestants to attempt to seize resources when they cannot prevail, and for stronger ones to cede what they can cost-effectively defend.

      • You’re not big enough for me, Big Dave:

        > In studies conducted in Argentina, Denmark and the U.S., men with greater upper body strength more strongly endorsed the self-beneficial position: Among men of lower socioeconomic status (SES), strength predicted increased support for redistribution; among men of higher SES, strength predicted increased opposition to redistribution.

        Next time, learn to read an abstract.

        Or bring Chuck Norris.

    • Study Proves: Men with Size 9 Shoes Think Upper Body Strength Important

      Plano, Tx__In a Multi-Center Meta-analysis of common sense, researchers discovered that short men with drinking problems tend to vote republican in an effort to overcompensate for their inability to identify restroom locations at sporting events. In addition, short, stock teabaggers typically have to settle for harpies and doormats because they fail to command the adequate respect of intelligent and strong women who do not want to breed with “peacocks”. Other indicator behaviors are combovers, sportcars, members only jackets and Rolex knockoffs.

  32. John Bates

    Hey Judy, the AGU has taken up this grand challenge by creating the Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX). The first set of projects connecting scientists with industry should be announced within the next month. You can read the overview here:

    Regards, John

  33. Mao sent the teachers to the farms because he knew that in the social order it was there and only there that they could be expected to make any worthwhile contribution to society. That’s were we are now in America — the productive have been stabbed in the back by academia and solutions coming from academia are never going to work. Mao at least understood that much about how the Left works. It doesn’t. No one works at all unless that is what they are told to do. We can’t have academia actively involved in taking away our personal liberties and then let them do as they please. They have proven that they are prepared to go down in flames with the house they have torched and it is high time we pull the plug on these sheiks of nihilism.

  34. Chief Hydrologist

    The way forward seems to be turning discoverers into entrepreneurs. America is renowned for creativity and for entrepreneurs.

    The real story of America at the moment is not deficits or sequestration – as difficult as that is – but cheap energy and robotics driving a resurgence in manufacturing. Natural gas is 25% of the price we sell it to the Chinese for.

    America is by far the largest destination for Australian investment abroad. We do it to gain access to venture capital – of which the US supplies 80% of the worlds total.

    Such a combination is ultimately unbeatable.

  35. “The Idea Factory” chronicles Bell Labs over the 1920’s – 60’s when in was probably the premiere institute in science research. From what I gathered, post WWII, the Pasteur quadrant went away (in any non-infant field). Unlike like Louis’s era, there’s just too much competition for one man or team to develop the applied and theoretical work.

    The way AT&T solved this problem was an open-doors policy from the most junior draftsman to the Nobel Laureate. In effect, encouraging synthesis among quadrants Bohr and Edison.

    One thing I’m realizing is there was an example of a Pasteur moment this year. That rogue millionaire seeding the Atlantic with Iron to stimulate plankton. Unethical you might say: but remember Pasteur was not liscenced to work on human patients when he have his first inoculation to a 9year old boy. Something to think about, if you want the best of both worlds in your research.

  36. In climate science there is another, new, category of scientific research – besides those 4 quadrants. It is research aimed at producing practical results – but not new, useful artifacts or gadgets for human use. The practical result sought is political action. “Scientific” research for the purpose of producing political results.

  37. In a recent article in the FT, we learn that UK universities are expected to “bolster growth” by engaging with business:

    April 8, 2013 12:13 am
    Growth prospects seen in university research

    Sir Andrew Witty is to come up with a plan on how British universities might go about engaging more with local businesses in an attempt to help bolster the economy of university towns.

    The chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline and chancellor of Nottingham University, has been asked by the coalition to lead a review into how the government might go about using Britain’s university research base to help bolster growth and will offer practical steps on how Local Enterprise Partnerships, the new local business bodies, can engage properly with academic institutions.

    I received the following questionnaire as a general circular to members of the department in which I work:

    Universities and the industrial strategy
    1. In what ways are universities contributing to the sectors and technologies in the Government’s industrial strategy?

    2. Are there ways in which they could contribute more?

    3. What more could be done to maximise the associated benefits to local economies?

    Collaboration and coordination
    4. How can central Government best promote effective collaborations while building on local leadership of the local economic growth agenda? What incentives could be added to the current range of programmes?

    Reaping the benefits
    5. How far is it true that the commercial benefits derived from breakthroughs in UK universities often go outside the UK?

    6. If so, what measures, incentives or support systems would secure more of the commercial benefits for the UK

    Which seems to be a cut-down version of the Call for Evidence by Witty’s review committee

    • Peter Lang

      Ruth Dixon,

      That questionnaire looks as if it has been written by a bureaucrat who believes central government knows best. He/she is already committed to that belief. He/she just wants to know how his/her department can become more involved and be responsible for more money shuffling and more handouts, all of which requires more bureaucrats and more opportunities for bureaucrats to be promoted to higher levels on higher salaries.

      Therefore, an appropriate response might be:

      Go and get a job in the real world and pass the message up the hierarchy above you.

      • It’s an interesting question as to whether an ivory-tower academic can tell anyone else to get a job in the real world :-)

        But indeed there was no recognition of the dual roles of a university to undertake teaching and research of the highest possible quality. Inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs, professionals or thinkers is not on their list, it seems.

      • Peter Lang

        Ruth Dixon,

        Yes, I recognise the point in you make in your first paragraph.

        Your second paragraph highlights the gap between the skills and knowledge needed for success in academia, business and policy development (if it is to succeed).

  38. Without the Bohr quadrant, the Edison quadrant ended at the phonograph, the tube radio — arguably, the cat’s whisker radio — and the movie projector.

    No lasers, no semiconductors, no internet.. the Edisons of today would be nothing without the Bohrs of Edison’s day. The Hansens and Currys of today would be nothing without an Arrhenius.

    And the so-called Pasteur quadrant? Pasteur’s research was inspired largely by goals and objectives in entirely other directions than the applications of his work eventually went.

    This Pasteur/Bohr/Edison grid is based on a fallacy. No one can know where their research will lead, unless they already know not only what outcomes they will get — which let’s face it, is more an indication of probable confirmation bias than good science — but also what uses the outcomes of their work will lead to in application.

    As anyone familiar with technology transfer knows, there is less than a one in five chance of success getting from theoretical research to real application. It’s a crapshoot.

    The best way to fund research is to fund research with the maximum possible distance between anyone in politics and anyone in science. That will benefit science by far more, will grow science fastest and most completely and with least bias and distortion.

    Only an idiot would want an Inhofe within a mile of a science funding decision.

  39. Hi there, first of all thanks for giving me credit for the image, which I didn’t create, but which I did try to explain in my blog.

    Second, you should check out some work by my colleague Ryan Meyer, whose dissertation focused on exactly this issue. Here’s an article by him:

  40. Basic research focuses on fundamental principles and testing theories. Mistakenly, it is sometimes implied that basic research doesn’t have practical applications. The history of science is replete with examples of basic research leading to real world applications. Just because a research study is not directed at specific set of circumstances does not mean that in the future the finding from that study will not be applied to a specific event or events.

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