Biologist Marston Bates once described research as “the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind.” Bates was referring to the inherent uncertainty in predicting and managing the scientific process. Research funding, particularly for fundamental science, can be a seemingly risky investment because of the uncertainty of a study’s impact. However, it is imperative that fundamental science is not viewed as a luxury, but as a necessary investment that has the potential to yield significant returns.
In Northern Pakistan, a ten-year old street performer awed and horrified crowds with his ability to place knives through his arms and walk across burning coals all seemingly without pain. Closer examination by physicians revealed that he could perceive sensations of touch, differentiate between hot and cold temperatures, distinguish between a tickle and applied pressure, but had no aversion to painful stimuli. Continue reading