What Have the Humanities Ever Done For Us?

Ian Donaldson

“The case for public funding of scientific and technological research in Australia, as in most countries in the world, is generally regarded as self-evident and axiomatic. Without sustained and curiosity-driven research, as everyone knows, bridges might well fall down, cheap fuels remain undiscovered, new viruses spread unchecked from country to country. Even quite unusual experiments within these technical and scientific fields whose larger purpose isn’t immediately evident to the wider public are commonly viewed with patience, even celebrated with good humour. The work of a seven-man Australian team of physicists analysing ‘the forces required to drag sheep over various surfaces’ was recently awarded one of Harvard’s coveted Ig Nobel Prizes, which are designed to reward achievements ‘that first make people laugh, and then make them think’ …”