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Prometheus Bound: Science in a Dynamic Steady State

Popular Science
  • Examines a vital social institution and arrives at disturbing conclusions
  • Analysis is realistic, comprehensive and original
  • Written in vivid, straightforward, untechnical language

By: John M Ziman(Editor)

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | May 1994 | #33248 | ISBN: 0521434300
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £96.99 $125/€106 approx

About this book

After expanding steadily for centuries, science is reaching its limits to growth. We can no longer afford the ever increasing cost of exploring ever wider research opportunities. In the competition for resources, science is becoming much more tightly organised. A radical, pervasive and permanent structural change is taking place. It already affects the whole research system, from everyday laboratory life to national budgets. The scientific enterprise cannot avoid fundamental change, but excessive managerial insistence on accountability, evaluation, 'priority setting', etc. can be very inhospitable to expertise, innovation, criticism and creativity. Can the research system be reshaped without losing many features that have made science so productive? This trenchant analysis of a deep-rooted historical process does not assume any technical knowledge of the natural sciences, their history, philosophy, sociology or politics. It is addressed to everybody who is concerned about the future of science and its place in society.

"Ziman succeeds very well in [...] describing the structures of academic science and the motivations of scientists driven by the intense competition of research at the frontiers. He gives an excellent analysis of the many dangers that threaten the future success of the enterprise [...] Ziman's analysis will strike echoes everywhere. This is a book for all those who wish to understand the concerns of those working at the frontiers of science to set Prometheus free."
- Nature

"Prometheus Bound is a masterly contribution to our thinking on these issues."
- Book Review

"[...] a deep analysis of the origins and extent of the changes that are affecting every facet of scientific enterprise and the lives of individual scientists and corporations."
- New Scientist



1. What is happening to science?
2. Scientific and technological progress
3. Sophistication and collectivization
4. Transition to a new regime
5. Allocation of resources
6. Institutional responses to change
7. Scientific careers
8. Science without frontiers
9. Steering through the buzzword blizzard

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