Properties of the evolution of scientific fields: An inductive study in applied sciences
Abstract. The evolution of science is made possible when experimental results are compared with expectations from theory and are consistent. In this context, experimental physics, as applied science, plays a vital role for the progress of science in society. The experimental physics is a discipline where physics scholars have an intensive laboratory experience that concentrates on experiments for substantiating and/or challenging established and/or new theories in physics. No studies to date allows us to explain the endogenous processes that support the evolution of scientific disciplines and emergence of new scientific fields in applied sciences of physics. In fact, one of the fundamental questions in science is how scientific disciplines evolve and sustain progress in society. This study confronts this question here by investigating the evolution of experimental physics to explain and generalize, whenever possible, some characteristics of the dynamics of applied sciences. Empirical analysis suggests a number of properties about the evolution of experimental physics and in general of applied sciences, such as: a)scientific fission, the evolution of scientific disciplines generates a process of division into two or more research fields that evolve as autonomous entities over time; b)ambidextrous drivers of science, the evolution of science via scientific fission is due to scientific discoveries or new technologies; c)new driving research fields, the drivers of scientific disciplines are new research fields rather than old ones (e.g., three scientific fields with a high scientific production in experimental physics are emerged after 1950s); d)science driven by development of general purpose technologies, the evolution of experimental physics and applied sciences is due to the convergence of experimental and theoretical branches of physics associated with the development of computer, information systems and applied computational science (e.g., computer simulation). Results also reveal that average duration of the up wave of scientific production in scientific fields supporting experimental physics is about 80 years. Overall, then, this study begins the process of clarifying and generalizing, as far as possible, some characteristics of the evolutionary dynamics of scientific disciplines that can lay a foundation for the development of comprehensive properties explaining the evolution of science as a whole for supporting fruitful research policy implications directed to advancement of science and technological progress in society.
Keywords. Research Fields; Scientific Disciplines; Scientific Fields; Evolution of Science; Dynamics of Science; Applied Sciences; Basic Sciences; Experimental Physics; Scientific Fission; Scientific Development; Scientific Paradigm; Branching in Science; Sociology of Knowledge; Scientific Knowledge; Philosophy of Science.JEL. A19; C00; I23; L30.
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