It's worth noting that science papers these days have two parts. First, there's the science, which is usually either mathematically or experimentally /hard/, and so is ignored by everyone except scientists, and especially by internet commentators (even in those cases where the paper is free to view). Second, there's the wrapping, which provides some context and a few suggested applications.
Since the science (with all its details and caveats and approximations and assumptions) is largely impenetrable to all but the specialist, this second "context" part is vital in communicating the basic ideas, so that non- or near- specialist can decide whether or not they want to spend the necessary time trying to really understand the result, so that they might use it, or extend it, or adapt it.
The "9/11" bit is merely this context, and scene-setting. It shows (or suggests) that the science bit might plausibly be expected to turn into something useful somewhere down the track - perhaps soon, perhaps not. It help you, the non-specialist understand the kind of problem of situation the research addresses. IT IS NOT THE RESEARCH ITSELF! (it is more akin to window dressing).
In particular I direct the reader to note the journal it was published in: Physical Review Letters, which is a research journal, and not one for applied-spying-techniques and/or viral-marketry.
And as for that "taxpayers blank cheque", please note that the UK spends about the same on catfood every years as it does on basic research. Academic salaries are not that great. I suspect it is rather similar in most other countries, if not worse.