Which country made best science/technology contribution?

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athena

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
5,032
Eugene, Oregon
When I object to education for technology replacing liberal education in the US, people assume I don't like technology. Nothing could be further from the truth, but perhaps I am wrong to believe the US was a world leader in science and the industrial revolution. Can you give me a crash course on national leadership in science and technology before 1958?
 
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Aug 2012
7
America is rightly hailed as one of the world's great scientific nations, but in terms of sheer contribution to the sciences, it trails a fair distance behind Great Britain, and Germany, too. Great Britain's contribution is quite simply terrifying. Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution (by far the most important event of the last five-thousand years), Britain's contribution to the sciences, in particular physics, is almost rude in its profundity. At the risk of becoming loquacious, I shall list several eminent British figures who helped change the course of human history.

Isaac Newton -- a nasty, awful piece of work, but quite clearly the greatest scientific genius who ever lived. A colossus among geniuses, his Principia is simply the most important book ever written. The genius to whom other geniuses pay reverence.

James Clerk Maxwell -- underrated genius second only to Newton in terms of brainpower and overall scientific contribution to the world. His work on electrodynamics led to a great many inventions that are now indispensable to our modern world. It truly astonishes me that his name is so unfamiliar to the general public. Idolised by Einstein.

Michael Faraday -- a personal hero of mine, commonly hailed as the greatest scientific experimentalist the world has ever known. Fought against the class prejudice of Victorian England to become the pre-eminent scientist of his day, and laid the foundations for Maxwell's famous equations. If you rely on electricity, then you owe a huge debt of gratitude to Faraday.

James Watt -- invented the separate condenser, which in terms of ingenious inventions, ranks just behind the wheel. One of the most influential men to ever exist, he provided the Industrial Revolution with the raw power it needed to take over the world.

Alan Turing -- the father of computer science, his face will appear on dollar bills and pound notes in the not too distant future. Died under tragic circumstances, having been treated despicably by the British government.

Edward Jenner --the father of immunisation, famous for inoculating his gardener's young son with smallpox. It is commonly said that Jenner is responsible for having saved more lives than any other person in history.

And a few others: Charles Darwin (enough said), James Hutton (father of geology), Alexander Fleming (antibiotics), George Cayley (immensely important in aerodynamics), John Hooke (Newton's contemporary and rival, almost written out of the history books by Newton), Adam Smith (father of modern economics), Robert Boyle (founder of modern chemistry), John Dalton (founder of atomic theory) Francis Bacon (one of the great geniuses of all-time, a polymath who is credited as the creator of empiricism and the scientific method), Henry Cavendish (secretive genius with enormous contribution to the sciences), etc…etc…etc…if you want me to list more just say, as I've only just touched the tip of the iceberg.

To conclude, no other nation on Earth comes close to matching Britain in terms of scientific contribution to the world. Sorry, went off on one there.
 
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Jun 2012
1,474
Florida
Since I don't want to get into a who contributed more to the scientific development of the world, I will only state that the Italians: Fermi, Marconi, Volta, Galvani, Galileo, etc., and the French made substantial contributions to scientific development...notwithstanding certain Anglophiles stating that the English invented nearly everything.

As Isaac Newton once stated, that he stood on shoulders of geniuses who preceded him. Nothing invented comes clearly out of the ether.
 
Aug 2012
7
Since I don't want to get into a who contributed more to the scientific development of the world, I will only state that the Italians: Fermi, Marconi, Volta, Galvani, Galileo, etc., and the French made substantial contributions to scientific development...notwithstanding certain Anglophiles stating that the English invented nearly everything.

As Isaac Newton once stated, that he stood on shoulders of geniuses who preceded him. Nothing invented comes clearly out of the ether.
That famous quote of Newton's comes from a letter he wrote to his great rival and enemy, Robert Hooke, who was notoriously stumpy and lacking in height. Consequently, it is considered to be nothing more than a rather nasty joke at Hooke's expense. In actual fact, Newton was notorious for denying or playing down the importance of external influence in his scientific workings.

And yes, the Italians and the French did contribute a huge amount to the sciences. Just not as much as the British. One does not have to be an Anglophile to recognise this obvious fact.
 
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Aug 2012
254
Isaac Newton so Britain. Science doesn't really stick to national boundaries so this is a nice parlor game, but Newton by far is the greatest mind at original thought in human history.

Guy above.. Turing yes but no one ever mentions the English person Boole (the real father of computer science) :( how sad.. (mind you he didn't do anything as did Einstein with out using Newtonian calculus mathematical logic, it's why Issac gets the cigar)
 
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May 2009
706
New Jersey
In the modern period(1600s-present) I would give it to the British.

Featchy made a great list and here are some more to throw on it

Joesph Swan: first incandescent light bulb
Frank Whittle: father of jet propulsion
Charles Babbage: father of the computer
Charles Darwin: theory of natural selection
 
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Jun 2012
4,014
USA
Isaac Newton so Britain. Science doesn't really stick to national boundaries so this is a nice parlor game, but Newton by far is the greatest mind at original thought in human history.

Guy above.. Turing yes but no one ever mentions Boole :( how sad..
I really do wish he received more credit here in the US in the popular imagination, but then again I feel that way about many scientists in history. Newton certainly is one of the greats of all time, if not the absolute greatest.

I do think part of the problem in my country is that in order for scientists to get funded today, they seem to have to steer all of their research and outcomes in a predetermined direction, which in turn taints the profession.
 
Aug 2012
7
Guy above.. Turing yes but no one ever mentions the English person Boole (the real father of computer science) :( how sad.. (mind you he didn't do anything as did Einstein with out using Newtonian calculus mathematical logic, it's why Issac gets the cigar)
Hadn't even heard of Boole. Interesting, thanks for the info.
 
Aug 2012
254
Hadn't even heard of Boole. Interesting, thanks for the info.

hey you are welcome.. no one ever has yet he worked out the binary mathematical logic we still use today, in 1849.. do a worthwhile computer science degree and you'll get to know about him.
 
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