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In Context #4 (Fall, 2000, pp. 3-5); copyright 2000 by The Nature Institute

The Ghostly Machine
Stephen L. Talbott

The Ghostly Machine Since World War II," writes Nicholas Metropolis, "the discoveries that have changed the world were not made so much in lofty halls of theoretical physics as in the less-noticed labs of engineering and experimental physics" (quoted in Dennett 1995, p. 186). And it does appear that the balance between theoretical and experimental science, between pure and applied science, and, more broadly, between science and technology, is shifting.

One of the most prestigious sciences today is genetic engineering—and we hear no great outcry against this popular label from researchers in the field. In physics and astronomy, it has required some of the most grandiose and sophisticated engineering feats of our time to construct the crucial experimental and data-generating machinery. Moreover, the blurring line between research and commerce testifies to the scientist's increasing focus on profitable applications.

Biological Mechanisms

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