• Question: What country do you think has participated the most in scientific discovery?

    Asked by 09pwang to Indi, Jarv, John, Ken, Vicky on 20 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: John Prytherch

      John Prytherch answered on 20 Mar 2012:

      Hmm tricky question, all countries have contributed something and many have contributed a lot. For instance, the ancient Greeks figured out a lot about the world (they even hypothesised atoms!) many thousands of years ago. They were especially good at maths. Later (between about 500 ad and 1600 ad I think, though i could well be wrong on the dates), both china and what now makes up the arabic countries were far out in front of the rest of the world in terms of scientific understanding and discoveries.

      After the renaisance in Europe, Italy became very important in science (e.g. Gallilieo and Leonardo Da Vinci) but it was probably Britain which shaped much of what we think of now as the classical science of the era, people like Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton Robert Hooke and Charles Darwin, among many many others, did some groundbreaking science (and formed the Royal Society, still going strong today!) and for quite a long time, Britain led the world in science. Other countries that were also key to science around this time include France and Germany.

      Today, the leader in science is the USA, both in terms of how much they spend on science and how much they produce (though the UK still contributes a lot, i think we might be about 4th or 5th globally in terms of what we produce). China is beginning to invest a lot in science though and is starting to do a lot of good stuff, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them overtake the USA in the not so distant future.

    • Photo: Vicky Young

      Vicky Young answered on 20 Mar 2012:

      Ohhhhh hard question! I don’t think we can really say as I’m not sure how you could would measure this accurately!

      I’m going to go with the UK and be all patriotic. We discovered:

      1. Penicillin which is one of the most important drug discoveries ever – its saved millions of lives and it still used today
      2. DNA double helix structure – this discovery told us how our DNA works
      3. We made the first computer – computers have changed the world
      4. Contraceptive pill – before the pill people had loads of children (most people over 10 children) as there was no way to protect against getting pregnant.

      Plus loads more that are pretty cool (:

    • Photo: Ken Dutton-Regester

      Ken Dutton-Regester answered on 21 Mar 2012:

      Actually in regards to current leader of science- America is currently very concerned about their status in the near future as there is less and less funding being made available for them. This year the NIH (largest funding body in the states) has their lowest rate of funding in all time with only 8% of projects being funded. Politically, they are worried that in the near future, science will drop down the priorities even further. China is definatley on track- they are investing heavily in science. Did you know- in regards to genome sequencing centres, they have the largest in the world- the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI). Not sure if it is still the case, but at one point, I beleive they had the same sequencing capacity in their institute as the rest of the world combined!

      Australia has made some significant contributions and we are definately on the way up.