18 June 2010

Forever progressing forward

I love science, technology, medicine, space... basically what ever nerdy topic you can think of, I enjoy it.  I am a constant visitor to NewScientist.com reading everything about anything, I can get lost and spend hours in the web of information that is Wikipedia, and I am currently an Honours student doing research for my Thesis.

The other day I was reading journals and papers in regards to my research and I found about 5 really detailed and highly relevant pieces to work from... the problem is they were written in 2006 - 2008.

Well we are only half way through 2010, 2006 - 2008 was only a few years ago how is that a problem?  To put simply the majority of what was spoken about in those journals, however only a few years old, are already out dated.  This isn't to invoke the sense of 'that's annoying'... to me it inspires a sense of 'wow, it is amazing and mind boggling how fast we are progressing!'.  To put it in another perspective, the Apple Iphone wasn't released until mid 2007 and since its release the mobile phone industry has exploded with touch capable phones and has really opened up mobile gaming (especially with the introduction of the Apple AppStore which houses over 100,000 games to play).

The journals are really well written, provide some amazing statistics and thoughts and at the time at least were mostly cutting edge.  The reality of our mobile technology now is completely different to a very short 2 - 3 years ago... 2 to 3 years, how short is that!

It is weird though because I think to myself that even my research (while is far from 'cutting edge' even as I write it) is only a tiny drop in this amazing, forever expanding ocean of academics working as one.  But then I realized that that is perfectly fine, because all these current modern technologies were no way possible without the use of previous research... and that research wasn't possible without previously done research, and so on and on.  So while my research isn't going to be ground breaking that will stand as a staple point for theories for the next hundred years (such as the work done by the great Einstein who's ideas and theories and still used today), it still provides a step for other research to build upon.  Well I like to think so at least.

Which to me is a great feeling.

It also is exciting to wonder what will be a reality in another 2 - 3 years time. Or further, let's say 10, 20 years... what about 50!  The first computers were developed around the 1960's, so in 50 years we have gone from computers that would take up an entire room, could only do one calculation at a time and couldn't store any data, to a mobile phone sized device that can do millions of calculations per second.  50 years is not a long time considering humans as a species has been around for millions, and it was 5000 years ago since ancient Egypt reigned free.

There is a fantastic service by the all conquering Google called Google Scholar that allows you to search published papers, journals and the likes that have been submitted by academics and researchers from all over the world.  It has an appropriate slogan on the front page  "Stand on the shoulders of giants".

You can only wonder the possibilities, which are indeed truly endless.


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