Are We All Stuck with the Breakthrough Innovations?

If we look back at the last century, we see that we have had a lot of advancements in science, engineering and technology. The last century, 1900-2000, was indeed a golden period of human history. In this century, we have almost passed two decades. However, as an admirer of science, engineer by profession, and avid technology user, I do not feel the impetus of the revolutionized innovations, which had already been started at the beginning of the twentieth century. Beginning of the century, Albert Einstein revealed the famous mass-energy equation, special relativity, which not only explained how the universe works, but also established the fundamentals of modern physics. In 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright or the well-known Wright Brothers, successfully invented and made the first flight. Ernest Rutherford published the model for the atoms that has brought us to nuclear era. In the past century, we have seen some of the greatest minds of human history – Albert Einstein, Alan Turing, Max Planck, Enrico Fermi, Nikola Tesla, Alexander Fleming, Marie Curie, Linus Pauling, Robert J Oppenheimer, Richard Feynman, and so forth  whose incredible contributions had helped shape the modern world.

The twenty-first century had started with a big buzz with so many scientific predictions, expectations such as flying cars, tourism to the Moon, human landing to Mars, intelligent household robots, artificial intelligence, etc. Although there have been notable progresses in some areas, for example 4G, 5G networks, smart phones, 3D printing, high-speed internet, and so forth. We also have super computers and made tremendous achievements in finding the God particle. Nonetheless, I find that the progresses are not as expected as the time elapses. In this century, we are more focused on commercial gains, intellectual properties, modifying existing systems along with others. If you look around, you will see that there is an invisible war grasping us everyday. For example, the giant tech companies are suing each other for some patent infringements, which eventually takes enormous amount of money and time from both parties in court. Now-a-days, the priority of economic prosperity is much more, which hinders the creativity among us. It is a disgrace that we do not have a faster and more advanced commercial airplane in the last two decades, although we could invest and put our time and energy into this. Still, it takes the same amount of travel time around the globe like it was 20-30 years before.

It is unfortunate, but research has now become a fashion rather than a passion. It has now become more of polishing data to enhance the look of the overall work instead of digging into the nature and origin of those numbers. Before the dawn of the twentieth century, research in theoretical physics was stranded to some extent to Newtonian mechanics until Einstein, Planck, Lorentz, Schrödinger, Heisenberg, and so on came up with novel thoughts that gave birth to the Quantum mechanics. Sir Isaac Newton, a name that will be remembered forever, for his invaluable contribution in physics. His masterpiece – Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy– is one of the greatest books of all time, which gave birth to the classical physics and have so many applications in real life. Afterwards, the physics saw a whole new dimension at the inception of the 20th century. 

However, do we see any breakthroughs at the beginning of this century? We see hope, ambitions that someday we will go to the Mars and live our lives just like we do here on earth. If mankind had landed on Moon more than fifty years ago, why can't we have regular visit there? During this half a century, they should have made the travel comfortable and less expensive so that they could do businesses, and we could have the opportunity to explore the space. In reality, space science is not that simple. With all the latest and sophisticated technologies, we are still struggling to solve the mysteries. So far, what do we have that has been accomplished during this time – we now have reusable spacecraft. But, guess what! There is a long way to go; we do not have enough power to propel a spacecraft that can carry us safety to the Mars or other neighbouring planets. Although, we unleashed colossal amount of energy by splitting (Nuclear Fission) or combining (Nuclear Fusion) atoms in late 40s in the last century; however, we are yet unable to control the reaction 100% so that it could be utilized in more systematic ways, for instance generation of clean energy, jet fuel etc. I know that there have been a lot of research going on recently for clean energy generation with nuclear fusion, and I eagerly wish that we will have success for commercial use very soon. 

We are so fortunate that our generations have the privilege to experience the comfort and peace of mind in everyday life, which have been possible because of the years of relentless efforts made by so many brilliant people. But, I also desire that the speed of our advancement never gets a halt as I am fascinated to know more conundrums scattered throughout the unending universe.

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