In 1831, British scientist Michael Faraday demonstrated that a magnet moved inside a coiled copper wire could move a switch at the other end of table. While seen as a neat trick, he was asked what possible use this was, as it was clearly pointless and not a very good use of his time or grant money.
What he had discovered was electromagnetism, specifically the laws of electromagnetic induction. Can you imagine a modern world without the ability to generate electricity?
Basic science may not have obvious practical application, but it is the basis for all applied science and engineering that comes after. It is fundamental to scientific research and progress in general. All future technology and scientific breakthroughs depend on this foundation. And as basic scientific research is inherently not profitable, the investment of taxpayer dollars provides one of the few revenue sources such vital research provides. And while funding for such important scientific research had, under Bush, consistently dwindled, the Obama administration has, thankfully, increased funding in many areas of scientific research. Now, a $1 billion investment in the NIST might seem like a hefty price tag, but that's .000063% of GDP. That is 6 ten-thousandths of your tax penny, for vital research into nanotechnology, information services, protocols for telecommunication processes, measures and standards for network infrastructure, and other very important 21st century industry fields. That is one of the best bargains around.
And the NIST-F2 atomic clock is no exception. By engineering this marvel of atomic technology, they not only increase our understanding of atomic theory and quantum mechanics, but the principles honed under such a project will be vitally useful to applied sciences for years to come.
Our clocks are already accurate enough, and we don't have to put this much money into anything else. We have enough alread. This is a lot of money, and we could be putting it toward much more important things like food and even more important scientific breakthroughs. So let's do that.
The previous U.S atomic clock was a marvel within itself. It is certainly conceivable that an even more precise level of accuracy could be achieved, but why would we use public resources to achieve a goal? The safety net in the United States is dwindling, and at least symbolically, this is detrimental to the image of how government operates.
There is to much stuff out here that need investing in, than an atomic clock if we already have one that is working just fine, than why try to spend money that we don't need to spend when it can go else where, such as homelessness, and creating better jobs, let alone more jobs.
I don't agree with the US spending taxpayer's money on something as trivial as an atomic clock. The current one ensures that everything runs on time as close to a millisecond as possible, and hasn't had any problems, while tax dollars should be put back into the system to help those vulnerable, and in most need of the money.