I see that I've fallen into a trap. The easy answer is to ask why one becomes a scientist. Personally, I don't really care about solving the problems of the world. You can call me selfish, and that's ok---I am completely fine with that. In some sense, having people tell me what I am interested in makes me even less interested in it. If some useful technology happens to come out of my research (it won't), then great. Like Feynman said---``Physics is like sex: sure there are practical applications, but that's not why we do it.'' For others, I'm sure that there are more altruistic goals. And that will dictate the problems that they are interested in. But you can't take a bunch of scientists and say ``Go solve world hunger'' and expect to get a very enthusiastic response, unless those scientists were interested in it to begin with. There are, of course, subtelties. I think your question should have been more appropriately phrased along the lines of funding research. In which case I almost completely agree with you. I completely agree with you because research is funded by the government, and the government exists (should exist) by mandate of the people. And the fact is that during the Cold War, most Americans were more concerned with making bigger bombs than with feeding people who resented us. I completely disagree with you, because in my mind science is like art, in some sense. Most people would argue that funding art is a good thing, but when they see the type of art that gets funded they are apalled. I feel that there is some cultural value associated with science, whether or not that science produces anything useful.