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Science’s dead end

Never has so much money poured into scientific research—yet the results add up to surprisingly little. Have we finally come to the end of what science can tell us?

By James Le Fanu   August 2010

For science this is both the best and the worst of times. The best because its research institutions have never been so impressive, its funding never more lavish. This is the era of Big Science, the financing of whose mega projects is now routinely measured in tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. While the total science research budget for the US just prior to the second world war ran to only $230m, by 1998 that figure had leapt several orders of magnitude. Biomedical research alone received $62bn and over the last ten years that figure has almost doubled again,…

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