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A new way of doing science

The “brute force” of web-enabled data manipulation and knowledge sharing is transforming science

By Martin Rees   November 2010

Stars in their eyes: an interactive project, Galaxy Zoo, lets amateurs join in the huge task of classifying millions of galaxies

During the 1660s, the newly-founded Royal Society became a focus for scientific dialogue and a clearing house for ideas. Its secretary, Henry Oldenburg, wrote and received hundreds of letters from all over Europe on all aspects of “natural philosophy”—what we would now call science.

Oldenburg soon decided that letters were not the most efficient way to communicate with his international network and in 1665 he started a journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, which has been published ever…

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