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"This month in the journal Nature, the report’s researchers told how their study of millions of scientific papers and patents shows that investigators and inventors have made relatively few breakthroughs and innovations compared with the world’s growing mountain of science and technology research. The three analysts found a steady drop from 1945 through 2010 in disruptive finds as a share of the booming venture, suggesting that scientists today are more likely to push ahead incrementally than to make intellectual leaps.

The three analysts uncovered the trend toward incremental advance while using the enhanced form of citation analysis to scrutinize nearly 50 million papers and patents published from 1945 to 2010. They looked across four categories — the life sciences and biomedicine, the physical sciences, technology and the social sciences — and found a steady drop in what they called “disruptive” findings. “Our results,” they wrote, “suggest that slowing rates of disruption may reflect a fundamental shift in the nature of science and technology.”

“We have extremely ordered science,” Dr. Evans said. “We bet with confidence on where we invest our money. But we’re not betting on fundamentally new things that have the potential to be disruptive. This paper suggests we need a little less order and a bit more chaos.”

If you follow science, you've seen this before, although the supercomputers are a new addition to the discussion. SciAm published articles saying this 40 or 50 years ago. Not exactly new...

But it still needs doing. I am reminded of the supercollider we started, but never finished...

Oh, my 2 cents is that this is a problem of success, that we've done so much science that the bar has been raised. All the genetics work of the last 20 years is, in total, jaw dropping. But, as the article points out, it's not terribly disruptive. But so what... Docs had been creaming their drawers for decades at the possibilities, and now they are showing up. In a generation, we'll be talking advanced treatments designed specifically for you. Wish I could be around to see it.

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