In 1927, King Albert I gave an address in which he appealed to his primarily Belgian audience to invest more in ‘pure science, as a necessary condition for applied science.’ In response, the National Fund for Scientific Research (Nationaal Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek, or NFWO) was founded in 1928. In the 1990s, the organization was split into the Flemish FWO and the Walloon FNRS. From the beginning, the (N)FWO has supported thousands of researchers and projects, and has been able to make available millions of euros for basic scientific research selected on the basis of excellence.
On its 80th birthday, the FWO reflects on this history in Founders of Knowledge. Fourteen Flemish professors, all of whom have received a Methusalem grant, offer their insights. In interviews conducted by journalist Jan Van Pelt, these worldclass scientists speak frankly about the long journeys behind them and the great challenges facing them in their respective disciplines. Herman Balthazar offers a his torical overview of the period, while Kaat Wils presents a sketch of the way scientists have been presented since the nineteenth century.