The importance of the discovery of gravitational waves a few weeks ago is not only in the discovery itself, but how these feats are achieved.
To find this, it took hard work, decades, in universities and research centers.
Scientists and engineers were developing new techniques and detectors, which meant getting to build, step by step, the appropriate instrument for the detection of gravitational waves.
“Gravitational waves are disturbances in the curvature of space-time, generated by accelerated masses, that propagate as waves outward from their source at the speed of light”.Wikipedia
This process is called science.
These new detectors and new techniques, some of them will become part of our future technologies, which we will use daily and we will not even notice it.
Today, we buy technological equipment (cell phones, GPS, CCD cameras, etc.), which were previously tested in scientific labs such as astronomical observatories.
And then, these countries export high value-added products that inject large amounts of income into their economy, much greater than selling raw materials.
Therefore, the creation of a Ministry of Science for a country like Chile that wants to reach a higher technological development is vital.
However, we must be very careful that this Ministry has a long-term vision, of at least 20 years, and that it is not subject to backhoes that every 4 years make a clean slate on science policies in the future.
So, when did we learn of these Gravitational Waves?
As an example, we have the possibility to develop the lithium industry.
The logical thing is to create the battery industry around this element.
In the future, there will undoubtedly be income by selling lithium, but above all, batteries and associated products of much greater quality and value.
Likewise, we have the opportunity to progress in solar energy, in researching the sea, gather data on the tsunami, using the northern skies for astronomy, and understanding earthquakes.
The opposite example is copper.
We sold pure copper at a good price, but we bought products associated with copper at a much higher value. In all this time, nothing was done to develop products associated with copper.
On the side of astronomy, as the host country of large observatories, a few years ago new laboratories combining astronomy and engineering in Chilean universities were created. These laboratories will allow us to have our own discoveries in the future and in the long term.
And also, the associated advances will allow transferring technology and export products of much greater value that will be a massive contribution to our economy.
I insist that this is in the long term, but in order to do so, there has to be a beginning, and the installation of these new laboratories, such as the Astro Engineering and Microwave of the UCSC, which with great effort are an important first step that requires support to train our future engineers and scientists.