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Wednesday 26 September 2012

Why not economics?

We have more fascinating guest blogs coming soon, and hopefully some exciting new announcements, too.

A few weeks ago I was on stage in Bern, Switzerland, explaining what Things We Don't Know is trying to achieve. We met with a very warm reception, and I'd like to say a big hello to our new Swiss followers! I explained that we are looking to employ students to write about seven sciences: Biology, Chemistry, Medicine, Physics, Planetary Science, Psychology and Sociology. A few people asked us why we decided to draw the line where we did, and exclude economics, for example.

This was a very difficult decision. A few people think we're crazy for trying to write about all the open questions of these seven, and it's certainly a huge task we're taking on. Before we launch the main site, we want to have a good selection of topics in all of the branches of all of these areas - and that's a lot of work. We wanted to cover as many of the sciences as possible, but knew the more subjects we added the longer it would take us to get ready for launch. We had to draw a clear line somewhere, and this is where it ended up. These seven sciences are very closely linked, which is the main reason we decided to include them all. It would be almost impossible to create a comprehensive description of the research being done in any subset of them, without linking to the others.

Archaeology, computing, economics, engineering, history and mathematics didn't make the cut - but that doesn't mean we want to exclude them forever. As the site grows after launch, we'll be looking to expand into these topics as soon as we feel able to do so.

The key to getting our database ready for launch is the student interns we recruit to interview researchers - that's why we're putting a lot of our effort right now into securing funding for these placements. If you think your university or research institute would be interested in working with us, please get in touch.

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