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The open access paper Lehtola & Karttunen (2022) Free and open source software for computational chemistry education (found in this answer) contains the following paragraph:

2 FREE AND OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE

2.1 Definitions

However, the control of access to the source code of such closed-source programs lead to perpetuating power structures and may inhibit academic collaborations between authors of different program packages,27 instead of the Popperian ideal of science: the selfless pursuit of truth,28 and a fair and unbiased competition of ideas and methods in the context of computational chemistry. Key persons in control of the access to the source codes of various software packages are able to hold back equitable competition and collaboration between scientists developing new methods and algorithms. The issue with gatekeepers is not a new phenomenon: as was already quipped by Max Planck, “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it”; this apt observation is supported by a recent study that investigated the dynamics of scientific evolution with the standard empirical tools of applied microeconomics.29 This problem is less likely to manifest in FOSS, as will be explained in the next paragraph.

27Jacob CR. How open is commercial scientific software? J Phys Chem Lett. 2016; 7: 351– 3.

28Li L. Why should anyone become a scientist? The ideal of science and its importance. J Chem Educ. 1999; 76: 20.

29Azoulay P, Fons-Rosen C, Zivin JSG. Does science advance one funeral at a time? Am Econ Rev. 2019; 109: 2889– 920.

I'd like to focus on what Planck's "state of mind" might have been when he posited:

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it

An instructive example might be Linus Pauling, Dan Shechtman and quasicrystals.

From this Chemistry SE question:

The video Quasicrystals ; Prof. Daniel Shechtman ; Nobel Prize in Chemistry focuses on Professor Dan Shechtman but happens to include some photos of Linus Pauling who never believed in quasicrystals. From the video:

The leader of that group was Professor Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel laureate. He was a very important figure and an idol of the American Chemical Society, and to his last day, he was standing on stages and published papers saying that "Daniel Shechtman is talking nonsense."

Pauling died in 1994a. Shechtman was awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2011.

Question: What was the context behind Planck's "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it"?

Where did he say it, who (if anyone in particular) was he addressing, and if possible, which scientific truth might he have had in mind?


apresumably not from scurvy (humor)

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    $\begingroup$ Ironically enough, a lot of the stuff that Planck discovered would never have been his discoveries in the first place but for the untimely death of James Maxwell, whose research, we can say today with the benefit of hindsight, put him on a direct course towards relativity and quantum physics decades ahead of anyone else. $\endgroup$ Apr 19, 2022 at 15:58
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    $\begingroup$ The same point is made forcefully by Kuhn in the 1962 text The Structure of Scientific Revolutions $\endgroup$
    – nwr
    Apr 19, 2022 at 22:14

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This view, that science advances more so due to new generations being more accepting of an idea rather than the current generation being convinced, has come to be known as Planck's principle (sometimes stated more succinctly as "Science progresses one funeral at a time").

The quote comes from Planck's Scientific Autobiography And Other Papers, p.33, a copy of which is available on the Internet Archive. The specific context that he is referencing is the conflict between Ludwig Boltzmann's (and Max Planck's) model of thermodynamics (specifically relating to the 2nd law/entropy/irreversibility) and Wilhelm Ostwald's now defunct model of energetics which largely ignored or dismissed notions relating to entropy/irreversibility.

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    $\begingroup$ Surely they should call it "Plank's non-constant" :) $\endgroup$
    – Barmar
    Apr 19, 2022 at 15:36

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