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Editors' note: bibliometrics and the curators of orthodoxy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2009

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Have you ever seen the Citation Indexes (CIs) for the year 1600? At that time, a very active community was working on the reconstruction of planetary movements by means of epicycles. In principle, any ellipse around the Sun may be approximated by sufficiently many epicycles around the Earth. This is a non-trivial geometrical task, especially given the lack of analytical tools (sums of series). And the books and papers of many talented geometers quoted one another. Scientific knowledge, however, was already taking other directions. Science has a certain ‘inertia’, it is prudent (at times, it has been exceedingly so, mostly for political or metaphysical reasons), but even under the best of conditions, we all know how difficult it is to accept new ideas, to let them blossom in time, away from short-term pressures.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009


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