The Science of Science

Thanks to recent technology, science takes a hard look at itself. 


In the late 1940s, while a new library was being built at the future National University of Singapore, a young mathematics instructor named Derek John de Solla Price stored the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London in his bedroom. When he placed the archives, starting with the first volume from 1665, into chronological stacks by decade, he was struck by what he saw: The height of each stack increased exponentially. Presenting his findings at the 1950 International Congress of the History of Science, Price theorized the growth was a characteristic of science itself.

His insight was prescient, and not only in anticipating the ever-escalating onslaught of publications. Today, a growing number of researchers are studying the inner workings of science, trying to make future work more effective. “The science of science has really exploded in the last 10 years,” says Northeastern University physicist Albert-László Barabási, a leading expert in the field often referred to as SciSci.


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