Science Versus Applied Science

I read this article from Live Sciences that based on studies of data from the Kepler satellite, one in five sun-like stars have planets that occupy the habitable zone that fits a very liberal set of criteria that can support life as we know it.  As a science and science fiction fan, I think it's pretty exciting.  But I also wonder what the point of the Kepler mission is.

I get that if one day, we have the ability to go explore these planets in a starship or a probe, then it makes sense to do this.  As it is now, we can barely get to the moon.  Actually, we can't get to the moon right now.  There are plans to get to the moon but that's it.  Just plans.

And for me, that's where the science and technology debate comes in.  And how we should distribute our scarce resources today.  With government funding harder and harder to come by, can we afford to keep looking at deep space or should we try to find a way to the moon, mine asteroids for minerals, or even build more space stations.  And we really care about finding the smallest of small particles in the universe or should we try to build a sustainable fusion plant to provide clean, cheap power source?

Maybe I'm getting older.  Maybe it's just the way things are and we have to face some harsh economic and social reality.  But I wouldn't mind seeing more money funneled into fields of science and technology that would have more immediate impact.  Look, don't get me know.  Mapping out our neighborhood of the Milky Way so that one day we can send probes or starships to explore is great but we can just as easily do that one hundred or two hundred years from now.

Today, we have problems that need more immediate attention and issues that has to be addressed.

What do you think?

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