Importance of fundamental physics research

Speaker: Arturs Vrublevskis

Spending taxpayer money on applied physics research with clear practical goals like faster computer chips or more efficient car engines is easier to justify than investing in fundamental physics research. However, using two examples from Ventspils and MIT I will argue that fundamental physics research can also be of significant consequence to society and deserves your attention and support. First, I will present the research of the Solar Physics Research Group at the Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Centre and the importance of space weather predictions. Second, I will share the example of the company "Butterfly Network" and its origins in fundamental astrophysics research at MIT.

After high school, Arturs continued his studies in the USA, ultimately in the physics Ph.D. program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he performed fundamental plasma physics research on magnetic reconnection in 3D and defended his thesis in 2014. Afterward, Arturs moved back to Latvia and since 2015 is part of the Ventspils University of Applied Sciences teaching in the Faculty of Information Technologies and doing solar physics research at the Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Centre (VIRAC). Arturs firmly believes that fundamental research can both be appealing to a broader audience and can also often lead to significant practical applications.