Skip to content
Surprising Science

When Science Goes Backwards

Exceptions to the trend of scientific progress include research on infectious diseases, space colonization, supersonic transit and commercial fusion power.

Scientific America’s John Horgan on which areas of science have suffered regression: I don’t mean what the philosopher Imre Lakatos referred to as a “degenerating research program,” which produces diminishing returns. That’s merely declining progress. I mean fields of research that actually go backward, as measured by some specific benchmark. For example, space colonization: When the Cold War ended, and the U.S. and Russia scaled back their space programs, which had always really been more about saber rattling than exploration. Only Trekkies and other sci-fi geeks take space colonization seriously any more.


Up Next