Without Use

A large part of mathematics which becomes useful developed with absolutely no desire to be useful and in a situation where nobody could possibly know in what area it would become useful; and there were no general indications that it ever would be so. By and large it is uniformly true in mathematics that there is a time lapse between a mathematical discovery and the moment when it is useful; and that this lapse of time can be anything from 30 to 100 years, in some cases even more; and that the whole system seems to function without any direction, without any reference to usefulness and without any desire to do things which are useful.

~ John von Neumann (1903-12-28 1957-02-08 age:53)