Article authors Competition does not benefit science (27/7) They are not, I suppose, practitioners of the natural or exact sciences. There are indeed many similarities between these sciences and major sports – a comparison made by NWO President Marcel Levy that has been criticized by the authors cited in their article. Just as in sports, credit is given to the first to finish, in exact and natural sciences, credit is given to the first to discover something: Archimedes’ law, Kepler and Newton’s laws, Van Mendel’s laws, Einstein’s theory of relativity, etc. The priority of major contributions has been the primary criterion for judging scientists in the natural sciences for more than two millennia. I don’t know how to judge the quality of the natural world. Should I give credit to Mr. Claassen, who discovered Archimedes’ law quite independently yesterday, after more than two thousand years? Another aspect of the natural sciences that is very similar to higher sports is: teamwork. A team of scientists who are completely in tune with each other, complement each other and work perfectly together, is in many ways similar to a football team in which players play together perfectly, pass the ball to each other in time, complement each other’s abilities and thus manage to score many goals.
Any scientist who has worked on such a team and helped make significant progress in their field with such teamwork knows how wonderful it is to work on such a ‘winning team’. Everyone who has tried this remembers that wonderful time with nostalgia. Just like the athletes who were on the “Winning Team”, they remember the great time their team scored great goals. Marcel Levy was right: if all goes well, science is already comparable to the highest levels of sport.
Professor Emeritus of AstrophysicsAnd
University of Amsterdam
A version of this article also appeared on NRC on the morning of August 3, 2021
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