Every scientist has been asked what is the utility of your research? Sometimes is difficult to find the answer, especially when you do not expect this question.
This is common among scientists, especially among those involved in basic research. Basic or fundamental science seeks essential principles that can be applied to future technologies. Science is like a pyramid which base is the elemental research. To discover a car is necessary to know the wheel first.
People outside science and unfamiliar with the process value more the products of applied research. For example media show more interest in a new Smartphone than in the discovery of new materials, but Smartphone cannot be done without some components that basic science has provided. It should not be forgotten that the final product is nothing more than an elaborate dish impossible to make without the ingredients or techniques from basic research.
The policies of cuts that are so damaging to humanity tend to undervalue basic research because their results are less visible in the short term. Most of politicians usually just show interest for things that can happen in 4 years. They prefer applied science because it provides headlines in newspapers where they can appear in pictures showing that they support science.
The problem is that applied science needs the resources of basic science to progress. Some countries have tried to import basic research from others for their applied science. However international technology transfer has some obstacles and is not completely perfect.
For all this is, the scientist must promote basic and fundamental science, because it is indispensable for the human progress, so next time you would be asked for the utility of your research please give a good answer, we must start defending science, it is our future, not just for scientist, for all mankind.