'Quick returns shouldn't guide science funding' - RTHK
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'Quick returns shouldn't guide science funding'

2017-10-17 HKT 17:07
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  • Chinese University researcher Tjonnie Li says results from some science branches won't be visible for a long time. Photo: RTHK
    Chinese University researcher Tjonnie Li says results from some science branches won't be visible for a long time. Photo: RTHK
Tjonnie Li talks to RTHK's Jimmy Choi
A local astronomer who recently helped confirm Einstein's theory of relativity, said on Tuesday that funding agencies should not be looking for quick returns when investing in pure sciences like astrophysics and astronomy.

"Nowadays there is more and more pressure from funding agencies for the so-called valorisation, making use of whatever your research is, for the good of society, to form companies and so on," said Chinese University researcher Tjonnie Li.

But he said there are certain branches of sciences where immediate results are not visible. But they should not be penalised, Li said.

Referring to the neutron star collision detected in August, that caught worldwide media headlines on Tuesday, Li said that event helped astronomers locate the source of gravitational waves for the first time.

The existence of the waves – ripples in the fabric of space-time – was found in 2015 and its discoverers were awarded a Nobel Prize earlier this month.

Li, who contributed to the discovery of gravitational waves, had helped analyse the data collected from the neutron star collision.

The data has confirmed Einstein's theory that gravitational waves and light travel at the same speed. Li told RTHK's Jimmy Choi that this discovery could pave the way for more exciting discoveries in the near future.