Jiva Technology

Are we in a new Golden Age of science?

Its often the case that of the three major scientific disciplines taught in schools and university, one or other of physics, chemistry or biology comes out on top. For a long period, it seemed that physics was top dog, with its endless discoveries at a quantum scale, the continuing affirmation of Einsteins theories of relativity and the benefit of NASA space programmes. Back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, it would have been chemistry that was top dog, with new elements being discovered, radioactivity and crystallography giving up its secrets. And in the late 90’s and early 200’s, biology was revolutionised with genome sequencing opening up a myriad of new research options.

But if you look across the scientific landscape at the moment, has there ever been a moment when science was either more needed and, at the same time, more productive. In all the major scientific disciplines, ground breaking new work is not only pushing back the boundaries of our knowledge, but also being applied to practical problems at an ever more rapid pace. Has there ever been a better time to study science?

As we shift to a post-carbon economy, the work of chemists in battery technology and materials science will have a profound impact on the speed of transition. Environmental scientists work on ever more complex models of our planet in an attempt to halt the worst effects of global warming. Biologists have given us gene editing tools, immunotherapies and gene therapies. Physicists inch ever closer to uniting our understanding the quantum world with gravity and spacetime; LIGO has for the first time actually recorded the presence of gravitational waves. Neuroscience moves ahead in leaps and bounds, quantum computing bounds forward, robotics and artificial intelligence have moved out of the laboratory, China has joined the scientific community with resources and scientists that can only help the global search for knowledge. And so on.

A friend of mine who engages in post-doctoral research in neuroscience said to me recently, “there are a lot of smart people in the world to compete with” when we were talking about progress in science. I came away thinking that was a good thing. With global funding for science on the increase and smart people drawn to all the scientific disciplines, this golden age of science is a source of inspiration; long may it last.

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