A student of mine seemed disappointed yesterday when I handed her a paper to read about Butterflies. I wanted to give an example of a nicely written scientific paper that was low on technicality and covered many of the same topics and techniques we had already engaged in class.

The response I got was less than enthusiastic. ‘But what’s the point of studying butterflies? Who would fund that?’ These questions are in reasonable complaints on the mind of many, non-scientists and scientists alike. A recent interview with the astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson touches on the question of whether the exclusive purpose of More >