Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The Wonderful World of Big Science
For most of its history, science has always been done by individual or at best a small group of scientists. World War II changed that: during the war, government-sponsored laboratories employing thousands of scientists sprung up to do large-scale research on weapons and technology. Since then, scientific research has entered a new era dubbed "Big Science".
Whether "big" science is any better than "small" science is a matter of controversy. Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory Alvin Weinberg (who coined the term "Big Science" in the 1960s) defended the organization and big-budget financing of Big Science as the only way to continue research into progressively more complex scientific matters. On the other hand, science historian Paul Forman posited that defense-related funding by the government shifted the focus in physics from basic to applied research.
Whatever the answer, Big Science is here to stay. So let’s take a look at some of the biggest Big Science projects in the World: