Pure Research


One of many things Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle interrogates is the idea of pure research. Sooper Geniuses don’t seem to have any awareness that they’re making things that old coots with medals on their chests and lifelong hucksters will get their hands on one day. They just make and think and make and think.

Why would anyone in their right mind have made something like Ice-9, except for their own curiosity, which you may know, is sometimes fatal to felines?

About that cat quote.  It’s usually abbreviated to the form we all know: “curiosity killed the cat.” Fewer know the line that follows: “but satisfaction brought it back.”

I hear in some scientific circles, pure research is approached reverentially. Like it’s what everyone should be doing to advance the human race. Swell. Except every once in a while a smart monkey figures out a way to kill a whole bunch of monkeys. Primates, unlike mythical felines, do not get to come back for eight more lives, no matter how satisfied they may be.

But hey, life without curiosity probably looks a lot like high school. Who has time for that?


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