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After watching Game of Thrones I started to wonder how exactly science is organized there.

It's mentioned briefly that there are maesters and they even have laboratories, but it seems they are mostly concerned with medicine. In season 2 we see

also a lab producing wildfire - this is chemistry.

So, my question is:

  • Is there really a steady technological advance in the Seven Kingdoms or does the technology remain on the same level for thousands of years?
  • If the Seven Kingdoms represent the medieval period of technology, does this mean that the era of the First Men is something like Stone Age?
  • Does the state finance the scientists on a regular basis, or is it just some charity funds from curious lords?

I would definitely be curious to see if the technology advances to our level and we will see epic battles like "nuclear missile vs dragons" :)

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If you've seen the last season, then in the very last episode they show that Qyborn is really a mad scientist. In the awesome sense of the term, too. –  user24620 Jul 9 at 20:49
    
“it seems they are mostly concerned with medicine” — I think that’s just what we see, due to the all the war and murdering going on. In season 2 I think, Grand Maester Pycelle officially announces that the measurements are in, and the 9-year summer is over. That’s some day-to-day meterology right there, but the only evidence of it we see is a one-sentence announcement in a Small Council meeting, because the scientists aren’t the focus of the story. –  Paul D. Waite Jul 10 at 9:58

3 Answers 3

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There are two scientific organizations in Westeros:

The Maesters of the Citadel

These are people who have dedicated their lives to study, and discard their family names in an effort to shed past loyalties. They study a variety of disciplines including astronomy, meteorology, chemistry, medicine, economics, history, politics, smithery and even magic (though magic is mostly studied as an oddity for historic purposes). They are assigned to different lords to act as advisers, teachers and post masters. The Citadel is funded by taxes levied by the city of Old Town (where it resides) and by payments the lords of the realm make to the Citadel in exchange for the service of its Maesters.

The Alchemists Guild

Concentrating more on the chemical side of science, these people have been largely supplanted in importance by the Maesters. Their only claim to relevancy these days seems to be their monopoly on the creation of Wildfire, which is probably their only remaining source of funds.


Technological Level

There is a steady increase in technological know how in Westeros. The advent of the First Men (12,000 years ago) brought with it bronze technology, the Andals (2,000-6,000 years ago) brought iron. Though it does seem that it is quite slow by our standards. Many theories have been brought forward (see this question), but the existence of magic and the harsh weather patterns may have been a factor.

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Note that like real life alchemist, the ones portrayed on the novels mix magic and science. Wildfire productions seems to need some spells, according to some texts on the book. This makes them radically different to Maesters, who dismiss magic at all. –  Flamma Jul 10 at 7:01
    
Maesters don't all dismiss magic. 1% or so of them study it and forge a Valyrian steel link for their chain, and it seems that Maester Marwyn has gone a good deal further than that. –  Mike Scott Jul 10 at 16:19
    
@MikeScott - Correct. Which is why I put "mostly studied as an oddity for historic purposes" –  System Down Jul 10 at 16:49

The production of wildfire may have more to do with magic than science, according to the guild's comments in Chapter 49 of ACOK. From that page's summary:

Tyrion is also visited by Hallyne the Pyromancer from the Alchemists' Guild, and is surprised to learn that they have 13,000 jars of wildfire, way ahead of schedule. When Tyrion asks why, the pyromancer explains that their spells have been more potent of late, but is at a loss to explain why. He does ask Tyrion if there are any dragons about, and elaborates something he heard a long time ago, that magic began to disappear from the world when the last dragon died.

In general there has not been significant scientific advancement in Westeros, and the maesters are the main (only?) group dedicated to science.

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To add, the Valyrians are portrayed as being far more advanced than Westeros is currently. At least architecturally, metal-working and war.

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Dragonfire is magic, though. –  user24620 Jul 11 at 7:54

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