Talk:Multiple discovery

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Philosophy (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Philosophy, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of content related to philosophy on Wikipedia. If you would like to support the project, please visit the project page, where you can get more details on how you can help, and where you can join the general discussion about philosophy content on Wikipedia.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.

Add Higgs (Englert, Brout, Higgs, Guralnik, Hagen, Kibble) Boson?[edit]

The wikipedia discussion of the Higgs Boson mentions the almost simultaneous proposal coming from three independent groups. Add this to the list? And also to the list at List of multiple discoveries? AdderUser (talk) 13:16, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Add "Nulltiple Discovery"[edit]

Is it possible to add something about NULLTIPLE discoveries? See Serendipity, reference 11b: Sommer, Toby J. "Bahramdipity and Nulltiple Scientific Discoveries," Science and Engineering Ethics, 2001, 7(1), 77–104. There's a link to a free PDF download at the Serendipity entry:

I suggest an amendment to the current article, maybe to something like:


Multiple independent discovery, however, is not limited to only a few historic instances involving giants of scientific research. Merton believed that it is multiple discoveries, rather than unique ones, that represent the common pattern in science.[5]

Merton contrasted a "multiple" with a "singleton"—a discovery that has been made uniquely by a single scientist or group of scientists working together.[6]

ADD THIS PARAGRAPH: Sommer introduced the term "nulltiple" to describe a scientific discovery that is suppressed or blocked from publication or dissemination via normal scientific channels.[reference: Science and Engineering Ethics, 2001] Nulltiple discoveries are often made serendipitously as part an otherwise directed research program. As such, they are less likely to be re-discovered by others as is the case with many multiples. Sometimes, nulltiples do eventually come to light under historical rather than scientific circumstances.

Merton's hypothesis is also discussed extensively in Harriet Zuckerman's Scientific Elite.[7]


Just to explain the concept further, in "normal" research, different groups might be researching similar topics using their own favorite techniques. Something new is found (e.g., oxygen or ribozymes) because there are enough things common to the programs that they find the same answer and discover the same thing (a multiple). If one group is using specialized methods on a particular problem and no one else studying that problem is using those methods, a serendipitous "glitch" will only be discovered by that one group. The other groups researching that problem will get the "expected" incremental bit of knowledge and no one else will make the same serendipitous discovery, at least not for a long time. If the "glitch" is suppressed, it is a nulltiple. (A near example: The Albrecht 4+2 Cycloaddition mentioned in the paper. There are many others but they are unpublished!) AdderUser (talk) 05:57, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

Thank you for adding the information about "nulltiples." Could you expand that contribution with the material in your last paragraph just above? It would help clarify some of the actual mechanisms leading to nulltiples. Indeed, I would encourage importing into "Multiple discovery" a generous sampling of instances described by Sommer. Nihil novi (talk) 23:05, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
You might even open a new section, "Nulltiples," following the "Multiples" section.
For that matter, it might be worth also considering an independent "Nulltiple" article to showcase findings such as Sommer's. Nihil novi (talk) 23:11, 4 March 2012 (UTC)