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    They sell bridges too
    • CommentAuthorloreman
    • CommentTimeMar 7th 2014
    Quite ferrel
    I'm watching Bronowski's Ascent of Man and am particularly struck by the sudden freezing halt in Islamic scientific development. It took a paradigm shift in the hands of the Renaissance to jolt the machinery back into life. And so I wonder - could it be that our own directions in physics will hit a brick wall and grind to a halt? And what kind of radical shift would it take to kick the enterprise out of its rut and get it moving again?
    Grant funding.
    I am not talking politics, but rather theoretical changes of direction

    Birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton, it lies two miles from the border of Leicestershire. This, of course, is a zoning error.
    In that case it will require some fundamental discovery, and not in a big high-energy particle accelerator either. Tabletop cold fusion, a real reactionless propellor, something like that.

    Or Aliens. Having an alien technological artifact to reverse-engineer would do wonders.
    • CommentTimeMar 29th 2014 edited
    What caused the sudden freezing halt in Islamic science. If I remember my history right, it was the rise to power of a very conservative form of Islam.

    The west should be very concerned about the religious right in what passes for Christianity over here.
    Europe laughs at these clowns. The historic parallel is Galileo and the Catholics. Science simply moved North to be with the Protestants, and the likes of Kepler, Leibnitz and Newton took it over.
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2014
    Posted By: Andrew PalfreymanEurope laughs at these clowns.
    So far. I seem to recall that, weapons aside, the Fascists were actually pretty bad for Northern European Science. And they haven't gone away.
    Einstein did. He came to the USA and built a bomb that blew up their allies.
    • CommentAuthortinker
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2014
    There is no greater stimulus for science than war. But not always (of course) in a good way.
    I beg to differ. I would say not war, but curiosity and intelligence. A population bereft of these qualities will do nothing for science, whether or not they are engaged in fighting.

    However, if instead of "science" you had written "engineering", then I am forced to agree.
    Another realisation from Ascent of Man; how comparitively recently everything has happened. I talked with and played soccer with my Granddad; he was born around 1880. It boggles my mind to realise that here was a man who, even by the age of 20, lived in an age that did not know that atoms were composed of parts, and a world that did not know of the existence of the electron. Nobody knew what the meaning of atomic weight was, and so chemistry was operating as if blindfolded. The pace of our acquisition of knowledge is truly staggering because it is all so incredibly recent.
    But they were no less confident in the knowledge they had.
    Hubris is probably eternal, yes.

    But I think things are improving. The Standard Model is widely regarded as a stepping stone, because it's slowly falling apart, despite its sensational early successes. Perhaps the fuzziness of the reality described by quantum mechanics has softened our arrogance a little
    • CommentAuthorloreman
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2014
    Now all we need is to figure out how to disrupt the Higgs Field. Then we'll really be cooking on gas.
    With gas, too :)

    That idea had never occurred to me. It would be a way of modulating mass. Yes, that would lead to great things. That was to be the promise of the Woodward Effect.
    • CommentAuthorkorkskrew
    • CommentTimeMar 30th 2014
    Now you've done it loreman.