We live in an age of unusually rapid fundamental discovery. This age cannot last long; it must soon slow down as we run out of basic things to discover. We may never run out of small things to discover, but there can be only so many big things.
Such discovery brings status. Many are proud to live in the schools, disciplines, cities, or nations from which discovery is seen to originate. We are also proud to live in this age of discovery. […]
This ability to unite via our discoveries is a scarce resource that we now greedily consume, at the cost of future generations to whom they will no longer be available. Some of these discoveries will give practical help, and aid our ability to grow our economy, and thereby help future generations. […] But many other sorts of discoveries are pretty unlikely to give practical help. […]
This all suggests that we consider delaying some sorts of discovery. The best candidates are those that produce great pride, are pretty unlikely to lead to any practical help, and for which the costs of discovery seem to be falling. The best candidate to satisfy these criteria is, as far as I can tell, cosmology.
While once upon a time advances in cosmology aided advances in basic physics, which lead to practical help, over time such connections have gotten much weaker.