When basic science stagnates, who has locked up human progress? There may be two key factors

This paper takes part in the series essay competition of “great science” of Recordunkown.

When we ask a centenarian: what do you feel most about the world in the past 100 years? The old man would answer without hesitation: the world is changing too fast. Yes, the speed of human development in the past 100 years is amazing, fast enough to make us feel incredible.

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Someone once said: let me stay in the mountains for ten years, and then come out, may have no understanding of the world, all the changes are too strange. In fact, it is true. If you are a Post-70s or post-80s generation, you can compare 30 years of human society with today’s human society in your mind, and you will find that the change is really great.

We should know that in ancient times, let alone 30 years, even 300 years, human society would not have changed greatly. The reason why there has been such a rapid change in the past hundred years is that human science and technology have brought about it. Hundreds of years ago, human beings embarked on the road of scientific development.

The power of science opens the door to the new century and brings infinite opportunities to human civilization. In the last century, science has shown a scene of blooming flowers. Whether in physics, chemistry or other fields of science, basic science has constantly emerged, which has opened up a new way for human research and scientific exploration.

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If you understand the basic science of the last century, you will find that the theory of relativity was put forward in the last century. It gives us a deeper understanding of the universe. The establishment of quantum mechanics is also in the last century, so that mankind has initially entered the micro world and seen the movement mode of micro particles.

Antibiotics also appeared in the last century, it makes crazy bacteria lower their heads, and brings great gospel to human health. In the last century, there were many basic sciences, which were the basis of the application of science and technology. Without them, there would not have been various kinds of science and technology that constantly appeared later.

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I believe we all know the power of science and technology. In the past 100 years, science and technology are changing every day. Take the mobile phone more than 20 years ago. At that time, the mobile phone was very expensive and single function. Only some rich people and big bosses could afford to use it. However, only 20 years later, now the average person has a mobile phone, which is very cheap and affordable for children.

Secondly, there is communication technology, which has achieved leaps and bounds in a short period of 20 years. At present, it has entered the 5g era, and it took a very short time for human beings to go from 2G to 5g. There are many other technologies emerging, such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, etc. with the rapid development of these technologies, many people have been making progress in the basic science of human beings.

So is that really the case? Of course not. In fact, since the emergence of basic science in the last century, there has been no new basic science in the past half century. In particular, it has been 20 years since mankind entered the 21st century. In the first 20 years of the last century, it was a relatively brilliant era, in which stage many basic sciences appeared.

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In the first 20 years of the 21st century, there have been many scientific achievements, such as the publication of the first black hole photo, the confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson, the achievements of the human genome project, the emergence of smart phones and artificial intelligence, etc.

However, if we carefully examine these achievements, it is not difficult to find that these advances in science and technology are essentially based on the basic theories put forward in the last century. Gravitational waves and black holes are the predictions of Einstein’s theory of relativity, Higgs boson is the prediction of the standard model, and so on.

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Up to now, there has not been any real and essential progress in basic scientific theory in this century. Seeing this, some people may say that it is because human beings have mastered all the Scientific Mysteries of the universe. Only by developing the scientific theories of the last century can we become the leader of the universe.

If you think so, it’s ridiculous. In fact, human beings may not even have 1% knowledge of the universe at present. 99% of the universe is still unknown to us. Scientists once proposed the classification of cosmic civilization. According to this level, the strength of human civilization is currently only 0.7, not even the lowest level.

The basic science of mankind is stagnant. Who has locked up the progress of mankind? To explore why basic science has stagnated, we need to consider two factors: energy and the limitation of human life.

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1、 Energy scientist Kardashev put forward the Kardashev grade index in 1964, which is a method to measure the technological advanced level of a civilization. And the standard of division is energy. According to the Kardashev level, cosmic civilization can be divided into three levels. The lowest level civilization needs to master controllable nuclear fusion.

According to this standard, the level of human civilization is only 0.7, even the human level in wandering earth can only be regarded as level 1. In fact, this criterion is very reasonable. Energy is indeed the key to judge whether a civilization can achieve qualitative progress.

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Human science and technology cannot be promoted without industry, and the core of industry is energy. What can really make civilization change qualitatively is the qualitative change of energy. The industrial development of mankind for hundreds of years is inseparable from fossil energy, which is known as “industrial blood”. No matter how fast human science and technology have developed in the past century, the industrial blood has not changed. It has always been fossil energy. If there is progress, it will only greatly improve the utilization rate of fossil energy.

However, fossil energy has two disadvantages. One is that its pollution is relatively serious. The main reason why the earth’s ecology has been deteriorating in the past 100 years is that fossil energy is widely used. Another drawback is that it is a non renewable resource. The earth’s fossil resources are limited. Once used up, mankind has not yet found alternative energy sources. Then human development will not only be “locked up”, but also the tragedy of retrogression of science and technology and civilization.

The alternative to fossil energy is controlled nuclear fusion, which is a powerful energy with no pollution and higher energy level. Its realization can not only let the earth return to the blue sky and white clouds, but also let human beings really go to the starry sky and open the era of great navigation.

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One of the important reasons why controllable nuclear fusion is so important to human beings is that it needs very simple and extensive raw materials. The reaction of nuclear fusion needs hydrogen, which accounts for 90% of the matter in the universe. The earth is an ocean world, and the most important thing is water. Some scientists have calculated that through nuclear fusion reaction, one liter of seawater can produce the same energy as 300 liters of gasoline.

And water is not only rich in the earth, even in the solar system, scientists have found many planets with more water resources than the earth. In addition, there are two huge hydrogen reservoirs in the solar system, namely Jupiter and Saturn. In a sense, once nuclear fusion is realized, it means that the energy needed for human development is almost unlimited.

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2、 Human life span, why does it limit the progress of human basic science? I believe many friends know that if the basic science of mankind wants to make progress and change qualitatively, it needs the appearance of great scientists. In the last century, it was the emergence of several great scientists that led to the emergence of basic sciences in human civilization. For example, the birth of Einstein brought forward the theory of relativity.

However, with the continuous progress of human science and technology, the division of various disciplines is more and more detailed, and the amount of knowledge is also increasing. This situation will make people spend more and more time on learning. In the past, it took 20 years to learn scientific knowledge, but now it takes 40 years. In the future, with the increasing amount of knowledge, more and more time will be spent.

Today’s scientific workers need at least a doctor’s degree in scientific research, and their age is about 30 years. If they want to make breakthrough achievements in a certain field, they should be at least after 50 years old. But the average life span of human beings is only about 80 years old, and with the increase of age, thinking will become more and more confused.

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This will lead a scientist to find that he has come to the end of his life when he has learned enough professional knowledge and is about to make a major breakthrough after hard work. Even if it doesn’t come to an end, the brain’s mind can’t continue to conduct scientific research. You say it’s not a big pity.

Therefore, from a scientific point of view, life span is a key factor affecting the development of basic human science. If human life span is hundreds or thousands of years old, then Newton, Einstein and other great scientists are still alive, and their minds are incomparable with those of other scientists.

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Under the leadership of these great scientists, mankind’s current strength may have broken through controllable nuclear fusion, made mankind a first-class civilization, and opened the era of star navigation. It is life span that is very important to the scientific development of human beings, so scientists have invested more and more in gene technology in recent years.

Life span is a shackle endowed by the laws of nature. To break this shackle, we have to rely on genetic technology, as long as it develops to a certain extent. Through gene editing and genetic modification, human life expectancy can be greatly increased. At that time, scientists will have a longer time to conduct scientific research, and the basic science of human beings will be exploding again, leading human beings to the interstellar age.

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