Science Today

  • Peter Shaver


90% of all the scientists who have ever lived are alive today. By contrast, less than 7% of all the people who have ever lived are alive today. It has been estimated that there were a few hundred scientists in the mid-1700s. If the number of scientists had increased at the same rate as the overall population, the number of scientists today would be a few thousand. Instead, according to UNESCO, there are about eight million researchers in the world today. The increase in the number of scientists over the last couple of hundred years is thousands of times the increase in the overall population. The growth rate in the number of scientists since the mid-1700s has been about 4% per year, corresponding to a doubling time of about 18 years and far faster than the approximately 0.8% per year growth rate for the overall population over that period. Currently in China the number of researchers is increasing at the furious rate of 6.6% per year, while its overall population is growing at just 0.6 % per year. There is no question that the number of scientists has increased dramatically over the last few hundred years (see Fig. 4.1).

Further Reading

  1. Bornmann L, Mutz R (2014) Growth Rates of Modern Science: A Bibliometric Analysis Based on the Number of Publications and Cited References. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology 66.10.1002Google Scholar
  2. Doudna JA, Sternberg SH (2017) A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Giles J (2005) Internet Encyclopaedias go Head to Head. Nature 438, 900Google Scholar
  4. Larsen PO, von Ins M (2010) The Rate of Growth in Scientific Publication and the Decline in Coverage Provided by Science Citation Index. Scientometrics Vol. 84, p. 575Google Scholar
  5. Larson EJ, Witham L (1998) Leading scientists still reject God. Nature 394, 313Google Scholar
  6. Nixey C (2017) The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World. Macmillan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Ripple et al. (2017), World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice. Bioscience Volume 67, Issue 12, p. 1026Google Scholar
  8. Stirrat M, Cornwall RE (2013) Eminent scientists reject the supernatural: a survey of the Fellows of the Royal Society. Evolution, Education and Outreach 20136, 33Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Shaver
    • 1
  1. 1.SydneyAustralia

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