That’s what it was often in the 19th century before public funding took root. And that’s what it may be again if such funding collapses in the future. Docked at the WHOI pier this morning is this research vessel owned by the Schmidt Ocean Institute…as in Eric Schmidt of Google fame. Typically this class of research vessel would have been paid for by a government research agency such as the National Science Foundation–no longer. The RV Falkor is perhaps a window into the future of science: back to the future.