The ever increasing importance and usefulness of chemistry and the chemical sciences is demonstrated in the discoveries and developments within academia and R&D, and the huge range of improvements to human life that have been made as a result. It is difficult to refute the importance of chemistry in the modern world, but is the current level of commercial investment justified? Does chemistry need more investment, or would more progress be made if there was a more investment in other subject areas? This essay shall firstly define the factors which make recent discoveries, improvements and innovations in chemistry important, and then compare this with other subject areas, with relevance to public spending and investment.
Contemporary Discoveries in the Chemical Sciences
There are naturally some breakthrough discoveries within chemistry that are more important to mankind than others. For example, the discovery of super-heavy element 115 ‘Ununpentium’, and indeed the previous discoveries of the lanthanides and actinides, while extremely important to the development of nuclear theory, elemental stability, containment and fabrication, have had limited practical use with regards to commercial industries.
On the other hand, there are many other discoveries which have direct, tangible benefits even in the short term, improving everything from human health to manufacturing and transport, and readily supplanted into industry for use by commercial entities and the consumer. For example, ongoing research into ionic conduction is helping to bring about the introduction of novel medical devices which can interface with the body’s vital organs by improving compatibility. Research in this area is driven by commercial biomedical interest, and because the field is not restricted to a narrow field of science, investment in this area is helping to fuel the wider industry.
A discovery’s worth is however often difficult to quantify. There are many supposed breakthroughs that do not have the positive impact predicted, and there are other seemingly unimportant developments that are so advanced they are unable to prove themselves until engineering and technology catches up. And regardless of this unpredictability, it is argued by many that pure discovery is its own reward, and does not require other positive effects to make itself worthwhile and financially justified. This essay will however not take such views into account.
Investment Example – Where Chemistry Proves Its Worth
To gain an accurate understanding of a discovery’s true merit, and hence its financial justification, it is necessary to analyse and assess every potential consequence of the discovery ahead of time. In the real world, predictions must always be made, and the most important thing is ensuring that these predictions are as accurate as possible, to minimise risk and to plan effectively. Complete understanding is difficult to attain without the benefit of hindsight and empirical understanding of a discovery’s impact in the long term, but without these luxuries we must make do with predictive modelling.
A case study shall be used to clarify the extent of a discovery’s impact and associable merits in reference to an outside investor.