"It's just one of the things that distinguishes humanity, that we can actually answer questions that are deep and fundamental, make predictions and do science, and that it actually works," said Lisa Randall, professor of physics at Harvard and author of "Knocking on Heaven's Door."
Consider also that all the technology you know can be traced to pure research, initially perceived as esoteric. Electric lights -- and, indeed all of electricity -- came from fundamental research in the 19th century.
Computers and transistors arose from the understanding of quantum mechanics in the 1920s and 1930s, Incandela said.
Certainly, Einstein didn't know that his relativity theories would become pertinent to your smartphone's GPS. The atomic clocks on satellites must be corrected because, in accordance to Einstein's predictions, moving objects in space are on a different "time" relative to an observer on Earth.
"Technology usually lags pure science by a large amount of time, and I would say, probably now there's a good chance we're further ahead of technology than ever before," Incandela said.
Even the World Wide Web arose out of a proposal from Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, who was a physicist at CERN in the 1980s. Essentially, the reason we have the Internet that we all know and love is that Berners-Lee wanted to enable better communication among physicists there.
It's likely, Primack said, that useful things will also come from the searches for dark matter and dark energy, and for other particles that the LHC is hunting. No one knows what the uses will be yet -- but then again, no one predicted that the World Wide Web would arise at a particle physics lab, either. CERN is, in fact, the same laboratory that houses the LHC.
Nothing is certain, of course, it is at least possible that doing this pure science could help bring into reality the sorts of technologies that right now seem like science fiction.
"If we're really going to explore the universe, in terms of actually moving through the universe and having the ability to do space exploration that's what you see in the movies, so to speak, the 'Star Trek' type things, in principle, we're going to need to understand and have the ability to harness the potential of nature at a level that we don't have now," Incandela said.