To the Prime Minister and the Chair of Parliament of Bulgaria


Some of our esteemed colleagues from Bulgaria have informed us of the dreadful financial situation of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and some of the leading Bulgarian Universities, in particular Sofia University.

During my entire scientific life, from the late sixties of the past Century untill the present, there has been a steady flow of important results in my field of science, theoretical physics, coming from Bulgarian colleagues. Quite a number of them are internationally respected and admired, and we have greatly profited from their insights. However, they tell us that, under the present conditions, they will not be able to motivate young people in Bulgaria to stay in science and that, as a consequence, science will decline alarmingly in your country.

Mathematics and the Natural Sciences have played and will continue to play an absolutely crucial role in the economic, social and cultural development of a country. The discoveries of mathematicians, physicists, chemists, life scientists and engineers have brought about the creation of a tremendous amount of economic wealth, including a huge number of jobs. There is every reason to expect that this will continue to be the case in the future! One may argue that, in difficult times like the present ones, emphasis should be placed on applied science and engineering. However, as many great scientists have pointed out repeatedly, and as one may argue on a large number of examples, there is no sharp boundary between applied and fundamental science. Fundamental science is the oxygen that keeps applied science alife and robust. Thus, adequate funding of applied AND fundamental science is crucial in maintaining a viable scientific community and infrastructure and thereby helping economic development of a country like yours.

But Science has further tasks to fulfill, beyond fueling economic growth. Arguing on the basis of knowledge, evidence and reason, scientists are able to advise government bodies and parliamentary committees on decisions of a technical nature of which there will be ever more numerous ones. Through their teaching, they transmit knowledge and scientific culture to the younger generation and teach it the power of rational reasoning and clear thinking. In a time when sloppy thinking and decision making on the basis of emotions instead of reason are progressing more and more, the role of scientists in keeping rational decision making alife and promoting scientific culture cannot be overestimated.

Finally, good Science turns out to be entertaining and to inspire enthusiasm and drive in the younger generation. A country that looses the younger generation looses its future. Scientists will help more efficiently and successfully to prevent this from happening than many other players in our societies (such as, e.g., athletes, etc.)

In conclusion, I recommend in the strongest terms that you make sure that the academic institutions in your country be supplied with adequate funding and be held in the esteem they deserve! You will not regret taking appropriate action in this direction.


Prof. Dr. Dr. hc Juerg Froehlich
Professor of Theoretical Physics
ETH Zurich, Switzerland