View Full Version : "Scientists"

Flame Boy
14-10-2005, 18:52
I had a question to pose a few weeks ago and I have only just remembered it. Here it goes...

In the 41st millenium, with the overwhelming majority of production and research and development undertaken by the Adeptus Mechanicus and their specific ranks of Tech Priests (Rune Priests?) that are rounded up for their relatively practical minds, does the word "scientist" exist in the 41st millenium?

If it does, my theory is that it has a negative connotation, that the "scientist" is a rebellious, perhaps heretical tinkerer that does not respect the tenets of the Cult Mechanicus.

I was wondering about this, because the only time I recall having heard the word "scientist" used 40k background was revolving around the mysterious figures the Emperor used to help create the Primarchs... Maybe they are semi-mythical figures from the Golden Age of technology?

14-10-2005, 19:07
during the dark age of technology, science was just that - science. I assume that, given that the Emperor pioneered a lot of sciences without being a techpriest, he understood the truth about science, he has been alive since the dawn of science. Whereas once mars was re introduced into the fold, everything would have quickly started to become as arcane as it is in 40k 'present day'

14-10-2005, 19:09
The adeptus mechanicus does research, I think I read in the back of the last 40k rulebook about an improved leman russ engine design that was being rolled out.

Also the mundane sorts of technology should be easily understood by tech priests. Your normal techpriest can repair most things he comes across in the imperium I think, so he must have some theory-based knowledge as well as the manual teachings etc. We often forget that the imperium is actually rather high tech in comparison to us (even if the application is sometimes odd), its due to the sheer complexity of the technology that it isn't understood by tech priests I think mostly.

Flame Boy
14-10-2005, 19:15
I was not arguing that the Adeptus Mechanicus do not research and improve on older technology, however, I was considering if the word "Scientist" exists in the 41st millenium, is it considered an archaic word relating to the past, or is it even considered heresy to be a "scientist"? I suppose without the approval of the Adeptus Mechanicus, large-scale research projects would be considered as careless by the Machine Cult, and frowned upon or even halted outright.

Do you think there wouls still be room for scientists and non-Adeptus personnel that undertake non-sanctioned research projects, or would it be akin to the techno-heresy of the Dark Mechanicus?

Ivan Stupidor
14-10-2005, 19:32
Do you think there wouls still be room for scientists and non-Adeptus personnel that undertake non-sanctioned research projects, or would it be akin to the techno-heresy of the Dark Mechanicus?

I'd say the Imperium is big enough for there to be lay researchers out there, although they would likely be supervised by the AdMech and not allowed near more arcane and sacred (read: complicated) projects. It could even be a pastime of idle nobles who can afford a tech-priest advisor to guide them through the more technical writings. Purely non-sanctioned research, however, would likely be stifled due to the rarity of the material and the general culture of the Imperium (ie, The tech-priests know what they're doing, and you don't!).

"Magos Kaster! Magos Kaster! Look at this passage!"
"Yes, Lord Porr. We studied that book last night."
"But I was thinking about it this morning, and I went to my library and cross-referenced it with the fifteenth book of the Edicts of Land, and..."
"Yes, I see, but... wait... Oh my. Lord Porr, how would you like a titan named after you?"

Khaine's Messenger
14-10-2005, 20:31
does the word "scientist" exist in the 41st millenium?

"Science" does not exist in 40k in a recognizable form for the same reason people claim "science" as we know it did not really exist in the Hellenic period or the early Dark Ages in Europe. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist at all....although it's possible that the exact word "scientist" may have disappeared everywhere except the Lingua Machina or its roots and descendants blended into other words in High Gothic or Low Gothic.

If it does, my theory is that it has a negative connotation, that the "scientist" is a rebellious, perhaps heretical tinkerer that does not respect the tenets of the Cult Mechanicus.

"Scientist" has probably returned to its roots as or become more generalized to be a simple label for someone who has made something their laborious study in the pursuit of greater Knowledge (cue the AdMech Quest for Knowledge). That's why you can call yourself a "scientist of theology" if you want to really stretch terminology to the breaking point, as theology can, from definitions of science not greatly related to the scientific method, be considered a science. To some degree, it's also probably not used because it's too familiar a term that carries with it too many modern connotations and would enforce the entirely wrong ideas about how we see 40k knowledge/tech progressing.

There's also the connotations within 40k about the secular evils of the DAoT...and science definately seems to be "amoral and inhuman" if applied with too heavy a hand, much like people love to refer to machines as possessing a cold, cruel, and inhuman logic.

Flame Boy
14-10-2005, 20:59
Aha... This is what I was questioning... I was wondering whether our understanding of "science" would be shunned enough by the Cult of the Machine and the technology-fearing masses that it had fallen out of favour.

(Oh, what are these definitions of science you speak of? I recently read an article in a magazine about Sir Karl Popper, about seperating science from non-science by fielding theories that can be proved wrong? It's only a small article I didn't really get muchunderstanding from, but as an aside I was wondering what the definition you mentioned was.)

I suppose with approximately 30,000 years of language evolution taking place since the Horus Heresy alone, the term could have disappeared long before the current period in the timeline.

However, I was curious, because "scientist" has a very different series of connotations to the Tech Priest, so I thought it was a valid question to pose. The reasoning for it not appearing in the background material for the contextual reasoning that we would link "scientists" to modern day figures is also something I hadn't considered. :)

Khaine's Messenger
14-10-2005, 21:06
Oh, what are these definitions of science you speak of?

Everything except definitions in 3 here (http://www.webster.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=science&x=0&y=0).

I recently read an article in a magazine about Sir Karl Popper, about seperating science from non-science by fielding theories that can be proved wrong?

Most likely a use of the modern scientific method and a discussion of parsimony, which has a lot to do with science as we prefer to know it. If someone wanted to play with semantics, though, the scientific method and the principle of parsimony become somewhat meaningless, or at the very least, nebulous.

Flame Boy
14-10-2005, 21:15
I think I understand what you mean, but only very tenuously. As modern scientific theory is generally taboo, I suppose the word would as you suggested either regain one of the alternative definitions or be used to describe endeavours unsupervised by Adeptus Mechanicus methods or personnel? I suppose the former is more likely, the latter already has a fitting term. Techno-Heretic.

14-10-2005, 21:57
I would personally argue that 'science' exists in parallel to the teachings of the adeptus mechanicus. It is, however, a directed science.


15-10-2005, 10:01
Science with a little s as an activity, yes. Science with a big S as a philosophy is a bit sketchy. I can imagine the more conservative Tech-Priests seeing it as dabbling, and being so self-righteous as to think that one's own opinion can prove or disprove a universal truth.

16-10-2005, 14:02
I think the major issue is the level of tech involved and the background knowledge to do much with it. There probably are lots of reseach institutes around the place looking at more focused and specific issues (engineering a specific strain of crops to better suit local conditions, engineers designing a atmosphere pump to fit that specific hole) as the AdMech can't be everywhere all the time and most planets still had a reasonable (post 20th century) level of tech during the dark age.

If you want to get to the forefront of theorectical research, you are either covering old ground or part of the AdMech in your second or third lifetime bringing yourself up to speed on the background you need. If AI, uploaded post-humans or some other fast time mind were responsible for most of the research during the Dark Age its going to be close to physically impossible for a human to expand on it.

16-10-2005, 14:47
That's the point, Sojourner. It's not just a simple imposition of lack of knowledge vs. understanding, or what-not, but a complex skein of interactions that encompass knowledge (not getting into epistemology!), culture and psychology...


16-10-2005, 19:09
Thank you for that, Nurglitch. You might want to try and explain the point that you were trying to make by posting us over to that piece, sorry chunk, of text! ;) Other than as general information, of course. :D

Hmmn, or is that being hypocritical?


17-10-2005, 08:27
In my view, there's probably three Einsteins, five Hawkings and at least a couple of Da Vinci's in the imperium at any one time - in the WHOLE imperium. However, that's not to say that they're going to be able to research anything - they might be fighting for their lives in the darkest depths of some hive, or about to be eaten by some alien gribbley that's consumed the rest of the guard platoon that they've been inducted into.
Even if they are able to do anything scientific, chances are they're under religious constraints - maybe they're very pious and don't want to investigate too far ("what's the point in us debating the existance of god if you give us his phone number the next morning?" ;) ), or maybe they're under close watch from the local preachers. Add in that it's unlikely that they can get anyone's previous research, and every time a new scientist starts looking, they're going to be starting virtually from scratch - it was Newton that said "If I have seen so far, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants" - referring to all those that came before him.

20-10-2005, 16:57
<sigh> I remember what the Ivory Tower was like... <sigh> And, yes, I do know what research is! ;)

With that said, I'm always less interested in information that you can readily look up (although a link is always useful) and more interested in the individuals interpretation of that information.


20-10-2005, 17:58
Well, one wonders at the progress of science in our world as well. I'd imagine that there are some parallels. "Publish or perish" might take on a whole new meaning in the Imperium, and I'd bet that sometimes researchers are discouraged from patting the dust off of their hands and saying "yep, we've figured something out", for fear that their funding would dry up.

Much like our world, to get technological progress, there needs to be a "top-down" will to do it. In the Imperium, the expenditure seems more important than the result.