John Horgan is a famous American journalist who wrote this book called “The End of science” in the late 90s. Well, I did not read the book to comment further on it. But, I read his 2004 article titled – “The End of science revisited” just now and thought I should share my thoughts about it online.
Coming to the book, the title says it all. In the book, he argued that science may be entering an era of “diminishing returns”. Our article in the current context is about the author’s reflections on the same topic. While Horgan does not at any point of time deny the advances in science and technology, which are happening at a rapid pace, he claims that the days of something like “ground breaking” discoveries might be over soon. Theres this example he puts in the article, which shows this “diminishing returns” trend in Nobel Prizes : The Russian Physicist Pyotr Kapitsa discovered super fluidity in liquid Helium in 1938 and won a Nobel prize. 40 years later, David Lee and his colleagues won a Nobel prize in 1996 for showing that super fluidity also occurs in Helium isotope He-3.
Horgan systematically discusses different scientific fields and their progress, responses from the scientists in these respective fields for his “End of science” statements and his comments. It also talks about how fields like Nano Technology, Artificial Intelligence etc did not live up to the promises they made. Here and there, he chips in the opinions of scientists from the relevant field – both positive and negitive comments. He talks about the promises of Neuro science and understanding of functioning of brain. And concludes on a note of “hopeful skepticism” saying – “I would like to see a greater recognition of science’s limitations – particularly in mind related fields, where our desire for self-knowledge can make us susceptible to pseudo scientific cults such as Marxism, social Darwinism, eugenics and psycho analysis”
It was a very interesting article. Personally, I got some gyaan on several ideas from several people on several scientific disclipines. Reading such articles always leaves me wondering on the basic questions like – what is life? why research? etc 😛
The article is not available for public view I suppose… 🙂 Can’t help it..
Details of the article:
The End of science revisited by John Horgan, IEEE computer, January 2004 issue.