The fact is an investigation into a particular physical, chemical, or biological process might not pay off for a year, or a decade, or at all. And when it does, the rewards are often broadly shared, enjoyed by those who bore its costs but also by those who did not.
And that's why the private sector generally under-invests in basic science, and why the public sector must invest in this kind of research -- because while the risks may be large, so are the rewards for our economy and our society.
No one can predict what new applications will be born of basic research: new treatments in our hospitals, or new sources of efficient energy; new building materials; new kinds of crops more resistant to heat and to drought.
It was basic research in the photoelectric field -- in the photoelectric effect that would one day lead to solar panels. It was basic research in physics that would eventually produce the CAT scan. The calculations of today's GPS satellites are based on the equations that Einstein put to paper more than a century ago.
In addition to the investments in the Recovery Act, the budget I've proposed -- and versions have now passed both the House and the Senate -- builds on the historic investments in research contained in the recovery plan.
So we double the budget of key agencies, including the National Science Foundation, a primary source of funding for academic research; and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which supports a wide range of pursuits from improving health information technology to measuring carbon pollution, from -- from testing "smart grid" designs to developing advanced manufacturing processes.
And my budget doubles funding for the Department of Energy's Office of Science, which builds and operates accelerators, colliders, supercomputers, high-energy light sources, and facilities for making nano-materials -- because we know that a nation's potential for scientific discovery is defined by the tools that it makes available to its researchers.