Basic sciences walk on two legs: discovery, and improvement of our daily lives
Among the recently announced Nobel Prize-winning results, nucleotide base modification, attosecond light pulse observation, and the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots have sparked global heated discussions. These three achievements all demonstrate human beings’ ability to understand physics at small scales. They also exemplify the use of innovative and transformative achievements to benefit the world and the people in a macro sense. They truly embodies the organic combination of “doing the subtle” and “reaching the broad”.
Changes in the research paradigm
With the rapid development of a new era of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, the scientific research paradigm is undergoing profound changes. The cross-disciplinary integration is deepening. The penetration and integration of science and technology, and economic and social development are accelerating.
And the importance of basic science has attracted more and more widespread attention from the whole society. The United Nations have designated 2022 as the “International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development”, which shows the global emphasis on the significance, value and contribution of basic science.
Calculus and Maxwell’s equations improved well-being
For hundreds of years, the development of basic science has consistently driven scientific and technological progress and has become an important guarantee for the well-being of mankind. Looking at the vast history of mankind, we can see that the creation of calculus allowed humans to better understand and describe natural phenomena. It not only profoundly changed the development trajectory of mathematics and physics, but also profoundly affected life sciences, engineering sciences and even economic science and other fields, which opened the prelude to modern human civilization.
Maxwell’s equations explain the mysteries of physics in mathematical form, unify electricity, magnetism, and optics, and have a revolutionary impact on modern science and technology and social life. Currently, a new generation of artificial intelligence, with the advantage of efficiently and accurately processing multi-source, multi-dimensional and multi-modal massive data, helps solve basic scientific problems across multiple disciplines and engineering and technological problems in complex scenarios. It plays an important role in improving research accuracy, shortening research and development cycles, and reducing research and development costs. It plays a key role in accelerating the transformation of scientific research paradigms and technological innovation models.
All fields of science
Judging from the development trend of science and technology frontiers, scientific exploration is developing towards macro expansion, micro depth and extreme conditions. Mathematics has increasingly become a “universal language” for elaborating the inherent laws of a discipline, strengthening the connection between disciplines, and an important tool for causal analysis and trend prediction. Physics has effectively enhanced human beings’ basic understanding of matter, energy, information, and life. Chemistry has become a human creation. As an important way and key means of new substances, life science constitutes an important carrier of the cross-integration of science and technology and has become the core driving force of a new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation.
Continuous breakthroughs and collaborative evolution in basic frontier disciplines are expected to give rise to new major scientific theories and important scientific ideas, and promote the solution of scientific “meta-questions” such as the structure of matter, the evolution of the universe, the origin of life, and the nature of consciousness.
Fields advance hand in hand
As the degree of integration of science and technology becomes higher and higher, cutting-edge technologies are showing a cluster-type innovation trend of multiple points and groups, and information technology is widely diffused and applied, driving chain changes in multiple fields that support each other and advance hand in hand:
- Biotechnology promotes the development of the medical and health industry and public health, improving the health level of all;
- low-carbon technology promotes the transformation and upgrading of energy structure, industrial structure, and economic structure, and accelerates systemic changes in the economy and society.
Global Innovation Index Report
According to the “Global Innovation Index Report 2023” released not long ago by the World Intellectual Property Organization, the growth rate of Moore’s Law reached 54.6%, the cost of gene sequencing dropped by 23.3%, and the cost of renewable energy power generation also continued to decrease.
At present, it is particularly urgent to adhere to the “four orientations”, strengthen the forward-looking, strategic, and systematic layout of country’s basic research, and comprehensively improve high-level scientific and technological self-reliance:
- The first is to improve scientific and technological research and development capabilities, coordinate vitality and order, give full play to the role of the country as a leader and organizer of major scientific and technological innovations, and support various innovation entities to carry out creative and systematic efforts to increase the stock of knowledge and design new applications of existing knowledge. work, focusing on promoting scientific prosperity and promoting technological progress.
- The second is to improve the ability to apply science and technology, coordinate development and security, give full play to the role of innovation as the first driving force, apply scientific research and technological innovation results, promote changes in the quality, efficiency, and power of economic development, and ensure overall national security.
- The third step is to improve science and technology governance capabilities, coordinate efficiency and fairness, and leverage the respective advantages of government, market, and social mechanisms to gather elements of science and technology innovation, to create a better science and technology development environment, and enhance the overall effectiveness of the national innovation system.
- The fourth step is to improve science and technology communication capabilities, coordinate domestic and international efforts, improve the scientific literacy of the people through the dissemination of scientific knowledge, scientific spirit, scientific ideas, and scientific methods, and actively participate in international communication and open cooperation to enhance the country’s scientific and technological competitiveness and influence.