The Three Sides of Spectroscopic Investigation
We need to recognize the important symbiotic relationship between theory, application, and instrumentation in analytical science.
Gary Hieftje |
The rather peculiar title of this editorial attempts to provide a framework that I have found convenient for considering scientific developments. The first part of the concept involves the classical view of scientific inquiry, that theory guides application. That is, a theoretical framework is developed from which applications spring. Put more colloquially by the baseball catcher Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’re apt to end up somewhere else”. Abundant examples of this approach can be found. For example, nearly 40 years elapsed between the first description of mass spectrometric principles and their initial application to chemical characterization. Similarly, NMR and Mössbauer spectroscopy were described theoretically long before their application. In the area of physics, the principles of laser operation were established long before a workable system was designed; the use of lasers in chemistry took even more time. This classical view of scientific inquiry can be represented as:
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