Between recessions and science-adverse administrations, federal research funding has decreased steadily since 2003. Basic research (knowledge for knowledge’s sake) and applied research (problem-solving) have both taken significant hits. The bulk of this work is performed at U.S. research universities and contributes heavily to the funding and salaries of faculty and students. U.S. research has been a cornerstone of innovation, but is in general decline with respect to other countries and our historical prominence.
This fiscal cycle continues this bleak trend, especially with the current environment of automatic budget cuts.
Therefore, researchers are adapting to the current environment through crowdsourcing. A number of STEM crowdfund sites have come online recently.
So why am I throwing this out into Oppo-land? Because Jalops like to mess with stuff. They want to know how stuff works, and can they improve on it? And they necessarily aren’t about the practical, but still ask “What if I do this?” They like quirky, impractical cars because they are a process and a challenge. And if it doesn’t start the first try, they get back under the hood and wiggle some more wires.
Researchers are like that too.
And (full disclosure) if my wife got her project funded she’d be totally psyched:
After all, if people can crowdfund $4 million dollars for a frikkin’ Veronica Mars movie, certainly they should be able to throw a few bucks at academic researchers who are asking interesting questions.