December 28, 2016

University libraries are empty, at least in the sciences. Just study rooms for students, nothing more. And it’s not because “everything is online”. It’s because researchers systematically stay in their own field, methodically read the latest, incremental, self-referential improvements. They rarely try to pick up a textbook in a completely different discipline, to fish for connections and metaphors, to get inspiration from the unusual problems, language, and graphs. Few of them go back to read the classics,  the very foundations of their own field, to feel how their discipline looked like when it wasn’t understood. I like to dream that the next fundamental breakthrough in science will begin in a library.

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