Every once in a while, we come back to this question. Odds are you are in a party and a faithful taxpayer discovered -- not without dismay -- that you cannot read palms, and as a consequence he/she would like to have his/her money back. There are several ways of answering these question. unfortunately, most of the times we simply lack solid information on the impact of our research on society, and end up basing our argumentation on a series of examples which, in a show-and-tell fashion, should convince the audience of Science's practical effects and thus that it is worth the cost.
I believe this is a poor answer. Not only we can do much better, but the current times impose it on us, and so we must rise with the occasion. I will present you a couple of articles which provide iron-clad reasoning on the topic, and hope by doing so help create a much more interesting debate, and provide you the tools to better answer this question. I note that this is not my original work.
2014 January 22, 13:30
Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto (Classroom)
Rua das Estrelas, 4150-762 Porto