By Roger Moore. The draft letter of expectation that the provincial government recently sent to the University of Alberta is great cause for concern for those who value the benefits of research. Research is essentially an assembly line: at the forefront there are fundamental researchers extracting the raw knowledge about the nature of the universe. These knowledge breakthroughs are then refined and processed by applied researchers to create the technological breakthroughs that industry then takes and uses to create devices and processes that increase our standard of living. If this were the oil industry, applied research would be a refinery and basic research would be the prospectors and drillers who find, extract and feed the crude oil to the refinery. Nobody would ever suggest that we stop prospecting and drilling for oil and focus purely on refining, because once the existing reserves ran out, the refinery would shutdown. Read more...