Scientist: Rate of progress slowing

Jul 01, 2005

A U.S. scientist says that the rate of innovation peaked around the year 1900 and might actually grind to a halt comparable to the Dark Ages.

New Scientist reports that James Huebner's view runs counter to the conventional wisdom that technology is advancing at an ever-increasing rate, with computer chip densities doubling every 18 months and computer power more than keeping pace.

But Huebner, a physicist at the Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, Calif., told the magazine he decided to find out why new innovations are not being developed as fast as predicted.

"Perhaps there is a limit to what technology can achieve," he said.

Huebner used two measures of innovation, the 7,200 major innovations listed in "The History of Science and Technology" and the number of patents granted in the United States. He plotted the first against world population and then divided the number of patents granted in each decade by the U.S. population.

He discovered that the first graph peaked in 1873, while the number of patents per capita in the United States has been declining since 1915.

Huebner's study is to be published in Technological Forecasting and Social Change.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Many religious people view science favorably, but reject certain scientific theories

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Invention slows water evaporation, generates energy

Jan 23, 2015

A new technology invented at the University of Arizona offers a positive environmental impact by slowing the evaporation of water from bodies of water such as mining tailings ponds and reservoirs, while simultaneously ...

Recommended for you

Long-necked 'dragon' discovered in China

13 hours ago

University of Alberta paleontologists including PhD student Tetsuto Miyashita, former MSc student Lida Xing and professor Philip Currie have discovered a new species of a long-necked dinosaur from a skeleton ...

The largest known muntiacine found in China

13 hours ago

Dr. HOU Sukuan from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), Chinese Academy of Sciences reported a new species of muntiacine Euprox in the journal of Zootaxa 3911 (1) recent ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.