An Irish slice of EU funding

 

Sir, – Can I offer the observation that it is the overall quality of the people involved which is the most important determinant of success in research and scholarly endeavours?

Good funding decisions and good academic appointments are best made by identifying the smartest minds and talents within broad boundaries and then leaving the choices of lines of inquiry to their own natural curiosities and judgments.

Even the best example of a programme initiated by national priorities, the Manhattan Project, wisely gave considerable rein to many of its resident players, among them von Neumann, Fermi and Feynman, a policy that not only helped the designated project to succeed but also greatly enriched many areas of science. Designing funding programmes around the sole goal of creating a left-handed widget will generally lead to the production of inferior left-handed widgets and little else. – Yours, etc,

ALAN C NEWELL,

Regents’ Professor,

University of Arizona,

(Trinity graduate 1962),

Downings,

Co Donegal.