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Unifiers and diversifiers in physics, chemistry and biology (fieldofscience.com)
25 points by cossatot 216 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 5 comments

> _"These unification feats are both great intellectual achievements as well as noteworthy goals, but they have led many to believe that unification is the only thing that really matters in physics, and perhaps in all of science."_

The whole essay is motivated by an opinion that is pulled out of thin air, and attributed to some mysterious "they". No evidence of who makes this claim. I've not seen any good physicist (much less the lot of them) claim that unification is the only thing that matters for physics.

> _"The obsession with unification has led to an ignorance of the diversity of discoveries in physics. In parallel with the age of the unifiers has existed the universe of diversifiers. While the unifiers have been busy proclaiming discoveries from the rooftops, the diversifiers have been quietly building new instruments and cataloging the reach of physics in less fundamental but equally fascinating fields like solid-state physics and biophysics."_

Duh! The American system of science funding necessitates sales and marketing. When your research creates tangible applications, you needn't go around proclaiming how you're doing deep things. Conversely, the only way for people doing abstract/theoretical work is to keep trumpeting ceaselessly; given the precarious funding situation, their supply could be cut off at any point!


Starting with the title - "unifiers" and "diversifiers" appear to be terms with definitions unique to the author. Except the author never bothers to define them.

This article seems to be a call to "praise" the lowly scientific tool developers and niche combers who don't get the credit they deserve.

This assertion is easy to refute by simply consulting a list of recent Nobel chemistry recipients:


I think I know what the author is trying to say, but don't think it's actually as big of issue as the author puts on. Funding, aside from the occasional very big project, usually goes to the "diversity" people.

"Sadly, the history of science in the twentieth century has led both scientists and the general public to value unity over diversity"

I'm not that familiar with the situation in the fields the author focuses on (chemistry and physics), but seems to me that in general the present-day funding climate strongly favours more applied research (the "diversity" in the author's classification) and can make it quite difficult to work on "unification".

1.) Create a dichotomy 2.) Say physics is to blame for skewing the dichotomy one way 3.) Say most physicists pursue goals on the opposite side of the dichotomy


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