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Wikifying scholarly canons

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Scholarpedia blog

Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, published in 1627, introduced the bold idea of a world in which humans developed technology and accumulated knowledge in support of the common good. His book helped inspire the Age of Enlightenment and the idea that we could look to the present, and not only the ancients, to better understand ourselves and the world. It particularly inspired Robert Boyle (1627-1691), who in the mid-17th century began a practice of publicly demonstrating his findings in his then new “(e)laboratory”, a large venue designed to allow others to observe the apparatus he used and validate his results [1].

Before Boyle, most of those who tinkered with the natural world were alchemists who hid the details of their work and then made grand claims about the phenomena they had privately “discovered”.  What Boyle realized, though, was that the kind of progress found in New Atlantis required the establishment…

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