What Science Will Be Remembered Centuries from Now, and Why?


Some sciences like geology, astronomy, or demography require a time scale of observation and study of phenomena that lasts longer than a human life span—and even that of civilizations. These “Sciences of the Archives” rely on the contribution of scientists who store their data and knowledge for the generations following after them. In this video Lorraine Daston explains how an interdisciplinary group of scholars investigated which conditions enable such scientific endeavors that depend on long-lived collections. They studied historical sources and how these records are kept to identify patterns across millennia and cultures. The findings indicate that a key driver for the people involved in building these archives is an almost utopian vision: the belief that their discipline will continue to make use of the archives and that future insights will depend on these records.