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Vint Cerf on Basic Research, Aging in Internet Age

July 29, 2014

Inaugural Internet Hall of Famer Vint Cerf testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation – testimony that may well have set the bar for all future efforts to explain the importance of basic research.

In his Senate testimony, while insisting that basic research must be adequately funded by the government, Mr. Cerf was careful to note that “basic and applied research go hand-in-hand, informing and stimulating each other in a never-ending Yin and Yang of partnership.” He stressed that applied research projects take a long time to mature, and he used the Internet as Exhibit A, detailing how its development over the years has progressedthanks to major investments from government.  He added that “Consistent and increasing support for basic and applied research … has been the source of most major advances in science and technology in the past 70 years.”

In addition to the Scientific American piece, Mr. Cerf was recently featured in The Washington Post, which produced an in-depth interview touching on topics ranging from his interest in playing the cello (he once got Pablo Casals’ autograph, which he still has) to his views on aging and a possible “age gap” in the Internet.

By far the most surprising thing for most readers was, no doubt, the revelation that one of the Internet’s inventors has some pangs of regret about abandoning music. Of his fellow music students, he said, “I envy the ones who didn’t give it up ... When you play in a group, there is something really intense, special and intimate about producing music.”

 

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