I work in particle physics. So as is natural for a researcher in such a field, I find myself often answering questions along the lines of “what’s the point of all this?” Why is so much effort poured into questions fuelled only by curiosity?
It’s a fair question. Society collectively pays for us to build big colliders and devote trillions of hours of computing time to finding the next fundamental particle. Particle physics is one of a number of fields one could call blue skies research, research that has no obvious useful application. Blue skies research mostly relies on funding from taxpayers, so in general people deserve an answer to “what is the point of all this?” The following is my attempt at an answer.