Chairman's Office
Scientific Entropy

Recently, the number of vacant houses in both urban and rural areas is rapidly increasing. The unoccupied houses are in disrepair, the yards are overgrown with trees and weeds, and the houses are truly trashy. The value that indicates the amount of such “clutter” is defined by entropy in the world of thermal and statistical mechanics. Entropy increases if the house and garden are left alone. External energy (a caretaker and a repairman or gardener) is needed to decrease entropy.

The earth we live on, from jungles to deserts, oceans, rivers, mountains, and plains, is home to diverse and varied ecosystems, where a wide variety of bacteria, insects, fish, mammals, plants, flowers, trees, and other life forms coexist. In other words, entropy is extremely high. And yet, the earth is not a messy, ordered, blue and beautiful planet. What brings order and controls entropy? Is it the light energy that pours down from the sun, or is it God-given energy?

By the way, I have recently noticed a loss of diversity and a decrease in entropy in the world of science. Scientists seem to have started doing similar research with similar keywords to each other. Walter Issacson’s latest work, “Code Breaker,” is a story of the struggle between science and business priorities through lies, deceit, and competition among scientists in genetic engineering, a trend in biotechnology for the last 10 to 20 years. It’s a story about the struggle between science and business priorities in genetic engineering. It suggests that science has begun to move in a different direction from the one I aspired to. I think I was caught in a similar situation more than 30 years ago. If scientists lose their individuality and diversity and start competing on the same research topics, scientific entropy will decrease. It is wonderful that we have been able to elucidate the structure of genes and obtain genetic manipulation capabilities, but I don’t think that scientific entropy, which should produce originality, has increased.

In the January 4 issue of Nature magazine this year, a study of all papers and patents published between 1945 and 2010 reported that disruptive (which I think is better translated as discontinuous than disruptive) inventions and discoveries have decreased by more than 91% compared to 1945. One of the reasons for this decline is the fragmentation of fields, but fragmentation does not necessarily lead to a decrease in disruptiveness. Rather, fragmentation may conversely increase entropy. I believe the main causes are the Internet and the supremacy of the impact factor [Kawata, President’s Message, Optics & Photonics News, March 2022]. They are external energies that have radically changed the scientific community, especially in the last 10-20 years. Thanks to the Internet, we can be anywhere in the world at the same time and get the same information. The sources of this information are concentrated in journals and themes with high impact factors (the rate at which research results are cited in other papers within two years). As a result, most of the world’s researchers are instantly drowned in the same flood of information, reducing scientific entropy.

To overcome this situation, it is necessary to have a single scientist who turns his back on the trend and espouses a delusional theory. They are always in small numbers and are out of proportion to the total number of scientists of the time. In the industrial world, we also need people who turn their backs on trends and create new businesses, venture entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs. Even if the number of start-ups increases as the world experiences a venture boom, the number of true entrepreneurs will remain small.

Nanophoton, a company of scientists, always wants to be an entrepreneur. To this end, we will never be satisfied with the technologies and products we have already invented, but will always be disruptive and continue to develop strange products, devices, and services that the market cannot predict. This is the significance of Nanophoton’s existence to contribute to society, and I believe it is Nanophoton’s individuality.

Note] The term “scientific entropy” used in this essay is a term I coined. Entropy is a value originally defined in thermo-statistical mechanics and has also been used in information theory. I myself invented and wrote papers in the 1980s on analytical principles for finding super-resolution methods and unknown components beyond the diffraction limit by minimizing or maximizing the entropy of spectral and image data (Applied Optics 1983, J. Opt. Soc. A 1989, etc.). And we also utilized the concept of entropy in the basic principle of Nanophoton’s latest product, the RAMAN walk. (Journal of Precision Engineering 2021, Proc. SPIE 11098, 2019, etc.)

15 May, 2023
Nanophoton Corporation
Chairman and Representative, Satoshi Kawata