O'Reilly logo

Promoting the Planck Club: How Defiant Youth, Irreverent Researchers and Liberated Universities Can Foster Prosperity Indefinitely by Donald Braben

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Introduction

The sciences play almost as vital a role in everyday life as the air we breathe. The water from our taps, the food we eat, our jobs, communications, travel, leisure activities, health, and unprecedented longevity all owe huge debts to science. However, such simple factual statements give no hints about the mountains of complexity that had to be overcome before any of these gains could be realized. The most important lesson to be learned is that science does not necessarily progress with the march of time. There is nothing inevitable about it; centuries may pass without any progression, and prolonged stagnation has been the usual result. Although science has led to the generally high living standards that most of the industrialized world enjoys today, the astounding discoveries underpinning them were made by a tiny number of courageous, out-of-step, visionary, determined, and passionate scientists working to their own agenda and radically challenging the status quo. Indeed, twentieth-century life was dominated by the unpredicted, revolutionary discoveries of about 500 of these pioneers. I call this seminal fellowship the “Planck Club” in honor of its first member (so to speak), Max Planck, who in Berlin on December 14, 1900, somewhat reluctantly announced that he had discovered an important new property of the universe. As I explain later, his work inspired a revolution, and nothing in science thereafter would ever be the same.

The Planck Club's uninhibited explorations ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required