Wanting to innovate humanity, a multi-billionaire decided to start a new country. He was able to convince a country in Europe to sell a large portion of their land to him.

He then constructed advanced buildings for research purposes, and invited all scientists and engineers in the world to become citizen of his country. The only thing they will need to do is research and construct whatever they want.

Everything is provided for, including food, housing, etc. Menial tasks like cooking, maintenance, anything unrelated to science will be contracted, so those scientists will have total focus on their work. They will still be paid, though the intellectual property for their work will be handed over to the country, and then traded with the rest of the world. And to prevent freeloaders, the billionaire decided that each and every scientist must be able to contribute something within a deadline. If they fail, they will get kicked out of the country.

What are the biggest challenges for a science-based country to exist? Is it even possible in our current world?

New contributor
Basher is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.

put on hold as primarily opinion-based by jdunlop, Renan, JohnWDailey, Mołot, L.Dutch Dec 7 at 1:17

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    Not exactly what you describe, but it somewhat fits - naturally - Switzerland. – dot_Sp0T Dec 6 at 19:47
  • 2
    How are deadlines decided? Are they set by the millionaire or some comitee reviewing every project, or are invited scientists free to set their own deadline as well? – Alexis Dec 6 at 19:53
  • 2
    "What are the biggest challenges for a science-based country to exist?" People hate science. – Renan Dec 6 at 20:37
  • 2
    Is there a fundamental difference between your contractors delivering meals and the scientists? Both seem to be contracted to do a task, but the scientists are somehow different. Exploring the differences may lead you to many pitfalls in the structure. – Cort Ammon Dec 6 at 20:42
  • 1
    While I appreciate your enthusiasm for my answer, I want to encourage you to wait before choosing a best answer (the checkmark). It's been less than an hour since you asked it. Give it until the weekend and see what answers you've got. You can upvote every answer you like (and please do!). If you choose a best answer too quickly, it discourages others from answering. And there are lots of great ideas out there. You might like one better than mine. Or maybe not. Either way, I'm sure you want to hear them. – Cyn Dec 6 at 20:46
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Your Premise Can Not Work

Menial tasks like cooking, maintenance, anything unrelated to science will be contracted.

How does that work exactly? Do you fly in a team of people to clean houses once a week? Does the laundry go out by train across the border and back again? Or do you have large numbers of second-class citizens (or people not even granted citizenship) living in your country?

Every time any locality has ever created a "noble" class (whether it's actual nobles or a collection of valued people at a large workplace), there is always a support team. A team that almost always vastly outnumbers the nobles.


Let's take the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States) as an example. Their complexes are huge and they often build nearby housing complexes for their workers. You can easily imagine a small country entirely populated by groups such as NASA where everything revolves around them.

Who Works for NASA?
NASA’s Headquarters is in Washington, D.C. The agency has nine centers, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and seven test and research facilities located in several states around the country. More than 17,000 people work for NASA. Many more people work with the agency as government contractors. These people are hired by companies that NASA pays to do work. The combined workforce represents a variety of jobs. Astronauts may be the best-known NASA employees, but they only represent a small number of the total workforce. Many NASA workers are scientists and engineers. But people there hold many other jobs, too, from secretaries to writers to lawyers to teachers.

Of the 17,211 people working for NASA in 2015 (page SD-6), 7788 (45%) are in a category called "Safety, Security, and Mission Services." Those are the folks not working for a particular department and are doing janitorial, security, landscape, tradework (like HVAC, plumbing, electrical), transportation, food service, and a whole variety of non-science jobs.

Within other categories like Science or Aeronautics, we see numbers of people, but you know a large portion of them are clerical, secretarial, or management, and not doing actual science.

Then there are the people who care for where the scientists are when they're not at work. Who builds and maintains the housing? What about grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, ice skating rinks? Do the scientists have families? Are all of their spouses scientists too? What about their children? Do they go to school? Who is teaching them...and providing support services for the teachers? Who takes care of the children if they're too young to be in school or outside of school hours, if both parents are working their science jobs? What about transportation around the country? School buses? Commuting to work? Moving around and between the huge job centers?

The outwardly valued people of NASA are scientists and astronauts. But they are a minority of the total workers. It takes a lot of people to form the village (to coin a phrase) that allows the science to happen.

What happens to all those people who are not scientists in your "scientist-only" world?

If your question is, can a county make its only export be the products of scientific research, the answer is sure. Under the right conditions. But your stated question is about making a country (not a town or or a company, but a full country) that where the only citizens are scientists and engineers and even their citizenship is conditional, based on their work output. Is that possible? No, it is not.

  • Wow, thank you so much for that! I severely underestimated the premise of such a country. I was only thinking that it was already a sustainable country, and instead thinking about outside forces like other countries, how will they react, etc. But your answers basically states that such a country would be impossible, which I completely agree now. Will work on the premise a little further. – Basher Dec 6 at 20:46
  • From what I understand what Cyn is saying is that your country wouldn't comprise only scientists and that it would be impossible to exclude from citizenship the other workers. Cyn doesn't say why though. – Tomás Dec 6 at 21:58
  • 1
    I didn't say it was impossible. I said that Basher did not mention this in her/his question but it's a huge consideration. Either you have a large majority of citizens that are not citizens (which violates the premise of the question) or you have a large majority of residents who are not citizens (which occurs in the real world, past and present, but is an ethical and political nightmare). You absolutely can not built this world without dealing with this question front and center. – Cyn Dec 6 at 22:33

I'd say this question is definitely opinion-based, but the following issues would likely arise:

  • Unless the Supreme Potentate can clearly define what "something" is, a lot of people (scientists and engineers are people too!) will be leery of working on that kind of contract. Moreover, science is a process, not a pachinko machine. Is validation of another scientist's experiment "something"? Is experimentation that validates the null hypothesis "something"?
  • "Multi-billionaire" vastly underestimates the amount of money many fields of research require. If you wanted useful particle physics or astrophysics research in your country of scientists, that would rapidly eat up any private individual's wealth. That's why countries fund the stuff.
  • Where do all of the contractors live? If you're contracting maintenance and food prep, you also then have to feed the contractors, and your support infrastructure is going to vastly outnumber your Citizen-Scientists. If none of these people are granted the rights of citizens, you're very likely going to have a workers' revolt in a hurry.
  • If you're contracting out defense and policing too, you're paying armed contractors. That, historically, doesn't go well.

The problems go on, and on, and on - there's a reason that such a society hasn't come to be in the real world.

  • Excellent feedback. The "something" part could be solved by giving a goal to achieve, like "A way to create a sustainable moon base" and thus, having each person form a team that will contribute to that goal. Though, teaming up means there should be an organization or committee that will handle them. Financially, I was thinking if its possible that other countries or companies "request" technological improvements and will pay for it. But again, this involves more people that aren't technically scientist and are lawyers or administrations. – Basher Dec 6 at 20:29
  • It goes beyond that - if you want robust science done, you need people who aren't contributing directly to whatever's being done. You need technicians, who are adept at reading plans and making them into things. You need scientists whose job it is to peer review others' work, outside of the context of whatever the goal might be. – jdunlop Dec 6 at 21:57
  • It very clearly is: "And to prevent freeloaders, the billionaire decided that each and every scientist must be able to contribute something within a deadline." – jdunlop Dec 6 at 22:52
  • 1
    And you need people to clean the toilets. – Cyn Dec 6 at 23:26
  • 1
    @Cyn "They come to [ScienceTopia] thinking they're gonna be captains of industry, but they all forget that somebody's gotta scrub the toilets." -- F. Fontaine. – jdunlop Dec 6 at 23:28

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.