2021-04-14 Book

Authors: Tetsuo Hatsuda, Yoshinori Ohsumi and Sayaka Oki
Editor: Ryosuke Shibato
Language: Japanese

What is "useful"? What does it mean to "study"?
Thinking about science, budget, and our future with researchers on the front lines!


In every era, researchers have challenged the unknown and contributed to the development of humanity.

Those who pursue mysteries that no one has yet solved.
Those who strive to solve social issues.
Even if they don't know when or what they will be useful for.
People who try to entrust more things to the future, even if they don't know when or what they will be useful for.

Our current lives are the result of their life-long challenges.
And the starting point has always been their insatiable intellectual curiosity.

However, in Japan, due to the decrease in subsidies for operation and the excessive "selection and concentration" of budgets for science and technology, it is difficult for researchers to conduct basic research based on intellectual curiosity.
As a result, the soil for nurturing the seeds of innovation is crumbling.

How can researchers continue their basic research in the age of harmony?
How can society support their activities?
Why do we need to support it in the first place?

This book is a compilation of discussions on the theme of "Useless Science is Useful" by three researchers who are active in the forefront of their respective fields, with some newly added material.

This book is a must-read for both science and humanity, children and adults, to think about the future of "science" and "study"!

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Science, Budget, and Our Future (Shibato)
  • Part 1: What is "useful"? ― Presentation
    1. "Useless" Science is Useful (Hatsuda)
    2. It all starts with curiosity ―The Nobel Prize Born of a "Garbage Pile" (Ohsumi)
    3. When did science start talking about "usefulness/uselessness" (Oki)
  • Part 2: Let's talk about the future of basic research ― Discussion
    1. What did "selection and concentration" bring?
    2. What does "outreach activities" mean for researchers?
    3. "The Future of Basic Research" to keep curiosity alive
  • Part 3: Toward a Happy Future for Science and Society ― After the Dialogue
    1. Practice for science and technology to achieve happy "co-evolution" (Hatsuda)
    2. For humane science that does not invest in individuals (Ohsumi)
    3. The humanities and social sciences become more dangerous as they are "useful" (Oki)
  • Acknowledgment: The future of "useless" research (Shibato)

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