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The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge by Abraham Flexner *Sold Out*

September 3, 2019 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm


This event is sold out. Please email with your name and phone number to be added to the waitlist.

featuring Lloyd Kramer, Professor of History and Director, Carolina Public Humanities

In his classic essay The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge (first published in Harper’s magazine in 1939), Abraham Flexner, the founding Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the man who helped bring Albert Einstein to the United States, describes a great paradox of scientific research. The search for answers to deep questions, motivated solely by curiosity and without concern for applications, often leads not only to the greatest scientific discoveries but also to the most revolutionary technological breakthroughs.

“Flexner’s essay needs to be reread, not just by government officials and business leaders but by scientists and voters as well.”
—Gillian Tett, Financial Times

The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge is a book that should be in the library of all those who undertake any manner of inquiry, be it scientific or humanistic, amateur or professional. Furthermore, it should not be read only once but turned to again and again for inspiration, for motivation, and indeed, even for comfort. For in a world so relentlessly focused on tangible achievement and commercialization, the reminder that there were, and continue to be, those in who knew and still understand the importance of unbridled curiosity to the health of the human mind and spirit is of inestimable importance.”
—John E. Riutta, Well-Read Naturalist

“Here is the bottom line: as strange as it seems, humanity’s future is likely to depend on society’s greatly increased support for fundamental, seemingly ‘impractical’ research.”
—Bruce Alberts, University of California, San Francisco, and former editor-in-chief of Science magazine


Meeting Date: Tuesday, September 3

Register online or call 919.962.1544


September 3, 2019
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Event Category:


Flyleaf Books
752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States
+ Google Map
(919) 942-7373