It used to be that a scientific breakthrough was something truly revolutionary. In the early days of search engines, before Google, back when Alta Vista ruled, if you searched on breakthrough you could be pretty much guaranteed that what you would stumble on was more than just mundane.
I blame the release of Jesus Christ Superstar for a lot of the modern day hype. Prior to it’s release in 1970, there were “stars” and there were “models”. But it wasn’t long after it’s release that media started to portray ordinary or even mediocre actors and actresses as “superstars”, and then it spread to models, and every model that makes it is a “supermodel”.
Gradually, it has spread, and now everything is mega or super or ultra. Ordinary things are gone. I suppose this is acceptable in the world of marketing. I can accept that commercials are going to make totally exaggerated outrageous claims because they need to generate excitement for whatever crap they are trying to sell.
Marketing hype does not belong in the world of science. Marketeers have entered and corrupted this field as well. Even the most mundane incremental improvement is a “breakthrough”. Sometimes only the restatement of something that has been known for thirty years is a “breakthrough”.
There is no significance to this post really other than to express frustration. Trying to Google breakthrough’s in various fields that I’m interested in have only yielded so much marketing hype this morning.
For example, did you know the Atomic Force Microscope is a new invention? Neither did I. It was invented in 1986, but that’s one of the items I came across that was hyped as if it had just been invented.