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Representative Lamar Smith, who chairs the House science committee, has called for a review of National Science Foundation grants to ensure the research being funded will benefit the American economy, boost our defense, and generally serve “the national interest.”

But scientists are pushing back, noting that it’s not always clear at the outset how a basic research project might end up making a difference in the world. Examples abound: For the past five years, the Golden Goose Award has recognized science research that takes a particularly winding path from the research lab to the marketplace. Here are some highlights:

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