Are we nearing the end of science? That is, are we running out of answerable questions, leaving us with only some mop-up duty, working around the edges of the great scientific achievements of Darwin, Einstein, Copernicus, et al.?
via Are we nearing the end of science? – The Washington Post.
This seems tangentially related to my last post, although I hadn’t seen this article before I wrote it. (I actually wrote that previous post Monday evening.)
It’s worth noting that this article is not asking the same question I did. I was asking whether scientific progress might eventually be judged too expensive to be worth the cost.
This article asks whether all the big questions have been answered. I think the answer to that is most emphatically no, and it takes a pretty myopic view of things to think otherwise. (The article author agrees although he discusses someone who doesn’t.)
And even when the current big questions will have been answered, I’m pretty sure we’ll always have new ones, even if they eventually become so expensive we no longer pursue them.
6 thoughts on “Are we nearing the end of science? – The Washington Post”
The very idea that we’re reaching the end of science sounds ridiculous, especially if you know anything about the history of science. At one time, we thought we knew 95% of everything there is to know, with only a few anomalous things left to figure out. Then Einstein had his miracle year and published four papers that showed that that last 5% were only the first clues to a deeper reality.
Okay, we’ve found the Higgs boson and the discovery of life on another planet will probably come any day now, but we still don’t understand dark matter or dark energy. Not even a little bit. We still don’t have evidence to confirm or refute string theory. We still don’t know why the universe is made of matter and not anti-matter. The day that we do understand those things, we’ll have a whole new appreciation for how the universe really works, and I’m sure there will be a wide range of new mysteries for us to solve as well.
People thought science was almost complete at the end of the 19th century. Then came Planck and Einstein. Personally I think reality also contains systems for which a complete description does not exist (like human culture). We will never come to the end.
I find it more likely that we will run out of resources, like you described in your previous post. It looks like our whole civilization is running against the limits of the planet.
Great post, and I agree with your assessment. Also, you know I love your blog, so I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award. Participation is purely voluntary. Details can be found here: http://michellejoelle.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/spreading-the-love/
Michelle, as always, I’m flattered and honored. I usually don’t participate in these things, but those questions look fun and interesting, so I may take a shot at them.
Participation is totally voluntary! I just wanted to let people know your blog was awesome (again). You can make up your own way of accepting if you’d like – that’s what I did! 🙂
Thanks. You did it well! Which is inspiring me to take a shot at it.