Will science ever run out?

Do you think there will ever come a point when there is just nothing new to think of or discover? Why, or why not?

IMO science won’t run out. Science and discovery opens up more questions than it actually answers.

Nope. Every new discovery opens the door to questions we hadn’t even dreamt of. Just today on CNN, there are reports of a new class of stellar degenerate matter bewteen neutron stars and black holes. The universe is a playground of puzzles to be solved, and as long as humans exist, they will continue to learn and gather new data to solve an ever-expanding set of questions.

No, mainly because science cannot achieve absolute certainty. Therefore, there will always be area for improvement. For example, measurement methods have limited accuracy. As technology improves, accuracy improves, but remains inperfect. And one can rarely sample 100% of a population, so statistical inferences are required (and are by definition not 100% accurate for each individual in the population). And 100% evidence can rarely be uncovered (consider the fossil record…fossils are rare to form, hard to find, and are often destroyed…the remains of every creature that ever lived are not available for inspection).

Plus, even if we eventually develop incredibly reliable theories* for all the Big Questions and we uncover a vast set of natural laws…the universe is a huge place…we can still study the mating habits of the subterranian xxyluths from the second planet in the HD1435 star system.

  • Remember that theories are explanations based on the available evidence. Theories do not become Laws as they are “proven”. Theories are the ultimate goals of science, not Laws, because Laws only describe what happens, they don’t explain how (theories do).

Perhaps it could be that at some point , though there will still be new things to discover, we won’t be able to discover them anymore. For instance, our knowledge has exponentially augmented with time during the last centuries. But a new discovery can become extremely costly. For instance the price of a particle accelerator is huge. Perhaps at some point we won’t be able to afford some experiment which would be necessary to gain some important knowledge because the equipment would cost, say, 10 000 billions dollars.

Also, the growing and more and more educated world population plays a part in this exponential augmentation. Perhaps at some point, when the population will stop to grow (or will diminish, as it appears it will within 50 years or so), and everybody will be as much educated as he can (assuming there’s no more poor countries, etc…) the rythm of progress will slow down.

Of course, it could be the other way around (for instance a productivity still growing fast, allowing us to afford pretty much everything in the long run, incredibly powerful computers able to discover new facts, whatever…) and the rythm could go on accelerating.
On a more “philosophical” note : IMO, there are no evidence that we could be able to understand everything. Our brain was “intended” to allow us to survive as hunter-gatherers, not to discover the secrets of the universe. Already, some parts of science make no “common sense” , and can only be “understood” from a mathematical point of view. It’s very possible, IMO, that there are things which we’ll never be able to discover plainly because we wouldn’t be able to understand (or even perceive?) them in any way. It’s not a given that the universe must make sense for us evolved apes (or make sense at all). I tend to think this will be the most likely limit to our ability to gather knowledge.

What phobos said.

Science develops models that increasingly (one hopes) better approximate reality, but never model it with certainty. Science does not have certainty and will always be seeking ways to make for even less doubt.

There will always be the unknown and those who try to prove that some small bit of it at least is not unknowable. (Do I know that?)

What ** clairobscur** said.

I’d add a footnote, or little summation, or something, except for the fact that s/he pretty much summed up the entirety of my opinion.

P.S. I hate it when that happens.:wink:

I’m hoping clairobscur, that before we max out our brains there will be some genetic engineering to increase their power.

I Just thought it would be nice to link in this thread:
Science is running out of steam, as it deals with the same question, but from a slightly different angle.