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In addition, "big science" projects tend to have engineering specs just outside what is possible when they are designed. LHC (and, before, LEP) have required faster electronics than existed at the time they were designed, efficient cryogenics, superconducting magnets, and so on. In that way, CERN drives technology development just like, say, the specs for the next generation of high-speed trains or the Shinkansen do. The same is true of NASA's plans for the next generation of space telescopes (including gravitational wave detectors).

So, big science drives technological developments in established fields, as well as occasionally resulting in new technology. [I distinguish two basic modes of technological progress: secular improvements in technology and new technologies - only the latter qualifies as "innovation" IMHO, and that is not predictable in the way that one can use, say, Moore's law when designing the specs of a computer system to be deployes 5 years in the future.]

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 06:03:38 AM EST
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