Friday, April 11, 2014

The human sciences are just getting started

Santo Fortunato published in Nature pointing out that, in physics, the lag between fundamental discover and a Nobel Prize for that discovery is getting longer and longer. Science writer John Horgan comments:
A National Geographic editor asked the letter’s lead author, Santo Fortunato, what the trend meant, and he suggested that science is “scratching the bottom of the barrel in fundamental science” and “running out of fundamental discoveries.” That reminded the editor of my 1996 book The End of Science, so he invited me to riff on the Nature piece, which I did. The Nobel trend in physics, I argued, supports my book’s assertion that further research will yield “no more great revelations or revolutions, but only incremental, diminishing returns.”
The point seems plausible to me. On the other hand, we're just getting started in the human sciences, aka the humanities. Though we've still got to shake off the shackles of the 19th Century.

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