Posts Tagged ‘science’

The death of small science; But I’m not dead, I feel quite fine!

November 17, 2012 Leave a comment

While enjoying a rare morning of tea and reading, I came across a few commentaries in Science magazine regarding the death of small science. And thought of this. The jist that I’ve caught is that smaller research projects are no longer the norm. It is all big projects, big collaborations, big funding. Ok the latter maybe not always.

For some this is a saddening fact due to many historical accounts of the success that have come from smaller research teams and projects. For others, the rise of BIG SCIENCE (insert daunting music here) represents a true international interdisciplinary approach to solving problems that is growing in importance as we continue to develop as a global community.

As the kid being welcomed (maybe) to the grown-up part of science, I’ve heard many discussions about this at the dinner table, and not just in agriculture. Lots of funding organizations won’t even look at small projects. Similar proposals are being sent back with instructions to collaborate or combine. Even the funding agencies themselves have been joining forces to pool funds and reduce redundancy.

If history is actually great at repeating itself and creativity is oft more apt in smaller or “free” environments, then saying so long to research that fits the “small science” moniker is probably a bad idea, with the potential to go against the drive for efficiency in stream-lining discoveries and solutions.

But don’t go getting all woe-is-the-big-world just yet. There has been an oversight. *gasp!*

At the same time as the rise of big science, we have more programs encouraging scientific literacy, accessibility of resources and crowd-sourcing. Social media is epic in facilitating those things, just check out #scicomm, #sonyc or any of these awesome science #. But so are projects like “Scientist in the classroom” and STEM days for school kids. Or Google’s science fair (totally friken LOVE that project). Or creative, resource providing R&D spaces for who ever wants to join, like protospace in calgary.

So there may be a growing movement towards big science and only funding big science. But something tells me that great discoveries of small science are not going to disappear. They might just take a bit longer to make it from the garage to the world. Or maybe not.

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