Is Scientific Genius Extinct?: Page 2

Have scientific geniuses like Albert Einstein gone extinct?

"They didn't see the revolution coming, didn't even see the need for it," Roush told LiveScience in an email, adding, "Above all, revolution and genius, like accidents, are not predictable. You often don't even know you need them until they show up."

She did not find Simonton's argument persuasive, noting that geniuses aren't necessarily crucial for revolutions in thinking, and she questioned the importance he placed on the creation of new disciplines.

"People are dazzled by revolutions and have too little appreciation of 'normal science,' where we accumulate lasting, and often useful, knowledge," she wrote in the email.

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Coping With Increasing Information

While he sees diminished opportunity for genius, Simonton says that the demands of science are increasing.

"If anything, scientists today might require more raw intelligence to become a first-rate researcher than it took to become a genius during the 'heroic age' of the scientific revolution in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, given how much information and experience researchers must now acquire to become proficient," he writes.

Roush agreed, saying that nowadays reading all of the literature published in a particular field may no longer be possible.

Individual researchers, and human society, in general, may be adapting to the increasing demands by redistributing the work both to other people and to computers, she told LiveScience.

Given the increasing use of computers to process information, “who knows that the ability to see it all and abstract to new ideas is not increasing?" she wrote in the email.

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