What happend with British science from 1870s - 1945?

M.S. Islam

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
British science had declined in a sense that it wasn't the undisputed world leader anymore, but became one of the select few.

However, this might have been a nice thread regarding wonderful achievements of Hungary which I wasn't previously aware of.


Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
San Antonio, Tx
Well, its the typical thing with inventions. computers for instance where invented by every other nation. simply because one nation says "we invented (programable) computers" and the next one says "we invented (electronic) computers"!

I always found it funny that america won the space race. SU had the first animal in space. didnt win them the space race. wtf? then they had the first man in space. didnt win them the space race... huh? then america had the first man on the moon. That won them the space race.... Lets wait, with some luck the chinese will be the first on mars,m then the chinese will have won the space race. :lol:

You just have to find something in the chain of events that has been done by someone of your ethnicity that then later led to an invention, and voila... your country invented "x".
Hm. All, or nearly all, great inventions are part of a continuum of developments along many fronts. Some societies are better at this than others and some don’t care and are happy where they are or are not interested enough to develop stuff. Normally I might guess that “necessity is the mother of invention” but one does have to have the resources and inclinations to make things thatwere not made before.

Japan is a fairly amazing example of a country that has few natural resources but which adds value by transforming raw materials imported from elsewhere into objects and machines that people the world over want.

Most inventions were made by enterprising folks who stood on the shoulders of others to make our modern world.

Those moon landings were something else again. At the time I was living in Houston and NASA, as many know, is headquartered outside of Houston, so space missions were always a matter of strong local interest. I’m sure that back in the 60s there were still a large number of V-2 German rocket scientists around then but there haven’t been any there for many years now. I actually watched the first moon landing from an outside terrace in Tunisia when I was in the Peace Corps. Yes, I was proud but not obnoxious about it.



Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
Welsh Marches
Wow, this is an ancient thread, one of several that have been posted over the years by a Hungarian poster who has come here (I think) under three successive names, arguing in each case that Hungary has made greater contributions to science than Britain since the end of the Victorian period. It is rot, of course, since original theoretical research has been greatly extended in the UK over that period with the development of the university system, and the UK is still regarded as one of the leading countries in the world for original research, perhaps second only to America for research of the highest level. The weakness of the UK has been in applying scientific research to economic advantage in industry, although it has been by no means short of inventiveness. By saying this I am not trying to downplay Hungarian contributions to science, but a sense of proportion is required, it has come nowhere close to Germany, France, Italy etc. for wholly understandable reasons.

Looking through threads like this, I find that many people are unable to distinguish between original theoretical research and the application of scientific knowledge for industrial and other practical purposes, and that inextricable muddles are usually the result. The OP's argument seems to have referred primarily to inventions, engineering and the like, and would of course have been patently absurd if applied to original high-level theoretical research.


Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
San Antonio, Tx
This is just a nationalistic rant, claiming that there had been a decline in British science to point up how wonderful Hungarian science had been. An irritating approach, since it might have been interesting if this had been presented directly as a thread about Hungarian scientific achievements. These seem to be largely in the technologica/applied area, to judge from the extract posted.

Really this is the most dreadful nonsense, the British may be empirical in their general approach to things, but British scientists work in the same way as scientists anywhere else; and yes, they even acquire some knowledge of mathematics! During this period Britain has been one of the leading nations in basic scientific research.
What a load of preening effluent this is. No doubt the Hungarians are a talented people especially in mathematics and physics, but, um, so are the British. I don’t need to tear down one country in order to elevate another and neither should you, especially considering how far advanced the Brits were. When the chips were down, the Brits delivered.


Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
British science and its former importance significantly declined in the era. Many nations like USA Germany or the little Hungary outstripped the British science.
One of my history teacher said: The lack of knowledge of higher mathematics in engineering and science caused it. (Britain hadn't world-important mathematician in the Era, and the importance of higher-mathematics was neglected in their universities of technology.

When the self-made-men inventors and slick craftsmen-inventors era unwarrantably declined.
In an era, when the higher logical symbolic thinking and mathematical knowledge became more and more important/determinant in the science....
This is false.

The tank, penicilin, the jet engine, and the computer, were all British inventions/discoveries.

Even during the Victorian technological heyday, there were German, French, and American inventions/innovations.

Britain in some ways did dominate the 19th century in technological developments, but the reality is more complex than this. It was German scientists who were the specialists in motor vehicle technology. Edison and Tesla pioneered electrical power supplies and distribution. Marconi wasn't British, but had a key role in the development of the radio.