Revolutionary technologies

31 August 2018  Vol 361, Issue 6405
Special Issue: Technologies Transforming Biology

Revolutionary technologies
By Jeremy Berg
Science31 Aug 2018 : 827
In this issue of Science, we present reviews of four technologies whose power and rapid growth across biological research communities make them revolutionary (see page 864). New technology is one of the most powerful drivers of scientific progress. For example, the earliest microscopes magnified images only 50-fold at most. When the Dutch fabric merchant and amateur scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek developed microscopes with more than 200-fold magnifications (likely to examine cloth), he used them to study many items, including pond water and plaque from teeth. His observations of “animalcules” led to fundamental discoveries in microbiology and cell biology, and spurred the elaboration of improved microscopes. Today, various light microscopes remain prime tools in modern biology. This example embodies two characteristics of a revolutionary technology: a capability for addressing questions better than extant technologies, and the possibility of being utilized and adapted by many other investigators