Whatever happened to French scientists?

This came from Eaton Rapids Joe:


French scientists were at the forefront of scientific discovery throughout the 19th Century and into very early 20th Century. They were leaders in Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and atomic Physics. And then something happened.

The most common explanation(s) are the two world wars.

A competing narrative is that the giants of 1900-1910 studied radiation and three of them (Curie, Becquerel, and Moissan) died in their early-50s due, in part, to naivete with regard to safety requirements. That is, they were killed by their research.

Well worth a read.

3 comments for “Whatever happened to French scientists?

  1. dearieme
    April 23, 2019 at 11:54

    “naivete” seems to be a brilliantly inaccurate choice of word.

  2. April 24, 2019 at 01:51

    Demoralised by Derrida. What is the point of seeking truth if it doesn’t exist. As the old French adage goes, “what was three last wednesday is five today and will be nine by le weekend. Qu’elle avons nous, ici?’

  3. April 24, 2019 at 07:52

    Different nations have different strengths (and weaknesses) for reasons that aren’t understood, but which probably relate to heredity (of intelligence and personality) as well as culture. e.g. France has been especially strong in mathematics; Germany in Chemistry.

    But all nations have suffered a decline/ extinction of genius level science (and all other realms of human activity) through the twentieth century; which became most evident in the second half of the century. This is explicable both in terms of heredity (especially the decline of general intelligence) but also culture (e.g. the rise of bureaucracy).

    When a country has a sudden concentration of genius in one domain, what needs to be explained is how this ‘blip’ happened – we don’t need to explain why it came to an end, since lack-of-genius is the normal baseline for human societies.

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