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Breaking habitual thinking patterns
Breaking the patterns of habitual thinking is crucial in order to welcome a new revolution of science and technology (S&T) and to realize a new paradigm of scientific research. We are facing a new era for S&T, in which there are more opportunities than challenges. However, this new era calls for governments and scientific communities to recognize that the most important issue might be something other than discussions of investment and rewards. Contemporary science achieved remarkable progress in the 20th century, contributing to the expansion of knowledge and human capability in sustainable development. As science continues to expand in both temporal and spatial dimensions, it has given rise to many new technologies. In particular, the development of energy, materials, information, and biological technologies has fundamentally changed the production mode and lifestyle of human beings, and promoted civilization. On the other hand, people have gradually come to realize that, while new challenges in human sustainable development demand solutions, some problems in nature, engineering, social science, and humanity itself cannot be solved based on currently available knowledge. Reductionism focuses on details at smaller and smaller scales, while holism emphasizes global behaviors. Bridging these two perspectives is still not possible. As a result, it is difficult to establish correlations between different levels of a system or between different scales on the same level, severely limiting human capability in sustainable development and presenting challenges to both natural and social science
The concerted efforts of all stakeholders are needed in order to effect the necessary changes. Complete understanding of the structure and logic of the knowledge system and the changes in the scientific research environment will lead to the gradual formation of a new layout of S&T and a new scientific research paradigm. This paradigm will be one of the characteristics of S&T in the 21st century. However, it calls for intentional joint efforts; otherwise, this process could be very slow due to our inertia in thinking. The purpose of this paper is to remind the global community that the advancement of this process requires the joint efforts of all disciplines as well as firm support from governments. Dissolving disciplinary boundaries, appreciating new thoughts, and so forth, require an open mind and impetus from the S&T community, the government, and all international science organizations. The attitudes of all parties toward these changes will largely determine the occurrence of a new S&T revolution, and the formation of a new scientific research paradigm, which are essential for open and global science, where “open” refers not only to accessing knowledge, but also to the way of thinking, and “global” refers not only to space, but also to transdisciplinarity in all sciences, as a whole landscape! Natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences will be unified, to some extent, through the common path of mesoscales, with increasing understanding of possible common principles. All parties concerned should fully recognize this point. Only in this way can humanity respond effectively to the challenges of globalization.