This article is a guest column in the New York Times blog The Wild Side. The blog started as a forum for evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson, who is currently taking a sabbatical, but has done e marvelous job of writing interesting posts readable by the interested layperson. The guest bloggers have kept up her high standards. This one, by Stephen Quake, discusses the differences between "pure" and "applied" science, saying that the line between the two is pretty much arbitrary, and that work in one affects the other.
This is an interesting point in public policy debates, as applied tends to get more funding, pure more prestige.