Methods For Funding Scientific Research:

Isaac Newton was appointed "Master of the Mint".
Leibniz held several government positions, from "Alchemist" to Ambassador.
Galileo considered becoming a professional lute player, & became a math professor.
Darwin was independently wealthy; so was J. C. Maxwell.
Einstein was a low-level patent inspector, then promoted to Physics Professor.

The idea of choosing professors on the basis of major discoveries is recent; it began in the late 1800s. The poet Mathew Arnold was a major advocate (& school inspector).

Government support for military research is also a surprisingly recent innovation. Rutherford developed the earliest forms of Radar, financed by the Royal Navy.

In WW II, the "Manhattan Project" had a British twin: "Tube Alloys". A mostly British research collaboration invented Radar, at first as a death ray! The "cavity magnetron" was a super-secret breakthrough improvement on Radar, and its main inventor (John Randal) was knighted, and "King's College Biophysics was created in his honor (instead of making him a Duke, or the equivalent.

The success of military research caused people to realize the same level of success would also be possible in research on any topic, including medical cures.

Vannevar Bush was an American Engineer; he founded the Raytheon company, was the first boss of the Manhattan Project, and proposed that the government begin funding basic research by giving individual grants to university professors. This began in 1942-1950 (when the law finally passed congress and is called the National Science Foundation. It was one of the last "New Deal" agencies.

A parallel agency called the National Institutes of Health, developed from a government agency for treating sick military veterans. (1887-1930).

DARPA was started by Pres. Eisenhower in 1958, for military research, but also invented the Internet, which was then built up as a branch of the NSF. It has been called "100 geniuses connected by travel agencies". NATO also was created in 1958.

Until 1995, the Internet was a sub-agency of the NSF. Then it was transferred to private companies.

George Soros personally funds over a billion in medical research in Russia, etc. which is a return to pre-twentieth century patronage of science by the very rich.

Holden Thorp is a strong advocate of faculty members seeking patents as a way of funding university research in all departments. The University of Wisconsin committed to doing this in the past and has been very successful.




back to index page