"Even if the particle is the Higgs boson, it is not going to be used to cure diseases or improve technology. This discovery simply fills a gap in our understanding of the laws of nature that govern all matter, and throws light on what was going on in the early universe. It’s wonderful that many people do care about this sort of science, and regard it as a credit to our civilization."
In other words, to quote The West Wing episode “Dead Irish Writers”:
Millgate: That’s because great achievement has no road map. The X-ray’s pretty good. So is penicillin. Neither were discovered with a practical objective in mind. I mean, when the electron was discovered in 1897, it was useless. And now, we have an entire world run by electronics. Haydn and Mozart never studied the classics. They couldn’t. They invented them.
Sam: That’s the thing that you were… Discovery is what. That’s what this is used for. It’s for discovery.
Science. It matters. Among the values I’ve become more and more certain of while in Thailand are education and discovery. In science, in the humanities, in the arts. In every aspect of life, pushing forward. Funding and promoting the creative potential of the human race. And the two—education and discovery—are in no way unconnected.
Edit: another incredibly well-written, perhaps more enlightening essay on the Higgs boson. The ending echoes my feelings entirely: A Blip That Speaks of Our Place in the Universe.