Science Research Paper TopicsThis list of more than 300 science research paper topics aims to provide students and researchers with a comprehensice outlook of modern science, its various fields, and historical development.

The English word science derives from the Latin scire, “to know.” In many languages, the word science or its equivalents can be used broadly to mean “a systematic body of knowledge that guides our relations with the world.” This is the sense that is present in phrases such as “the social sciences.” There have existed many different knowledge systems of this type. All animals with brains have, and make use of, structured knowledge of the external world, so in principle we could claim that even animals depend on some form of science.

300+ Science Research Paper Topics

The following list of science research paper topics is divided into 16 categories:

  1. Acoustics
  2. Agriculture
  3. Anatomy
  4. Astrophysics
  5. Biochemistry
  6. Biology
  7. Botany
  8. Chemistry
  9. Ecology
  10. Engineering
  11. Genetics
  12. Geology
  13. Mathematics
  14. Organic Chemistry
  15. Paleontology
  16. Physics

Acoustics Research Paper Topics

Acoustics is the science that deals with the production, transmission, and reception of sound. The first scientist to study sound scientifically was German physicist Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni (1756–1827). Chladni was an amateur musician who became interested in finding mathematical equations to describe musical sounds. Because of his work, he is often called the father of acoustics. Acoustics research paper topics include:

  1. Diffraction
  2. Echolocation
  3. Magnetic recording
  4. Sonar
  5. Ultrasonics

Agriculture Research Paper Topics

The development of agriculture—the raising of crops and animals for food—has been fundamental to the development of civilization. Farming brought about the settlement of farm communities, which grew into towns and city-states. Farming also made possible sedentary (settled) lifestyles, which in turn led to increased technological development. As growing populations demand an ever-increasing food supply, the need for agricultural advances continues to this day. Agriculture research paper topics include:

  1. Agrochemical
  2. Aquaculture
  3. Cotton
  4. Crops
  5. DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane)
  6. Drift net
  7. Forestry
  8. Organic farming
  9. Slash-and-burn agriculture
  10. Soil

Anatomy Research Paper Topics

Anatomy is a branch of biology that deals with the structure of plants and animals. Comparative anatomy is a related field in which the structures of different animals are studied and compared. There are three main areas of anatomy: gross anatomy deals with organs and organ groupings called systems that are visible to the naked eye; cytology is the study of cell structure; and histology examines the structure of tissues. Microscopes are used in both cytology and histology to study cell and tissue structures. Anatomy research paper topics include:

  1. Blood
  2. Brain
  3. Cholesterol
  4. Chromosome
  5. Circulatory system
  6. Digestive system
  7. Ear
  8. Endocrine system
  9. Excretory system
  10. Eye
  11. Heart
  12. Immune system
  13. Integumentary system
  14. Lymphatic system
  15. Muscular system
  16. Nervous system
  17. Physiology
  18. Reproductive system
  19. Respiratory system
  20. Skeletal system

Astrophysics Research Paper Topics

Astrophysics uses the already understood theories of physics (the study of matter and energy) to describe astronomical (universal) phenomena or events. Astrophysicists try to understand the processes that cause our universe and everything in it to behave the way it does. Astrophysics research paper topics include:

  1. Archaeoastronomy
  2. Asteroid
  3. Big bang theory
  4. Binary star
  5. Black hole
  6. Brown dwarf
  7. Celestial mechanics
  8. Comet
  9. Constellation
  10. Dark matter
  11. Extrasolar planet
  12. Galaxy
  13. Infrared astronomy
  14. Light-year
  15. Meteor and meteorite
  16. Neutron star
  17. Nova
  18. Orbit
  19. Quasar
  20. Radio astronomy
  21. Red giant
  22. Redshift
  23. Solar system
  24. Starburst galaxy
  25. Star cluster
  26. Stellar magnetic fields
  27. Supernova
  28. Ultraviolet astronomy
  29. White dwarf
  30. X-ray astronomy

Biochemistry Research Paper Topics

Biochemistry is the science dealing with the chemical nature of the bodily processes that occur in all living things. It is the study of how plants, animals, and microbes function at the level of molecules. Biochemistry research paper topics include:

  1. Amino acid
  2. Carbohydrate
  3. Cholesterol
  4. Fermentation
  5. Hormones
  6. Lipids
  7. Nucleic acid
  8. Osmosis
  9. Proteins
  10. Vitamin

Biology Research Paper Topics

Biology (from the Greek bios, meaning “life”) is the scientific study of all forms of life, including plants, animals, and microorganisms. Biology is composed of many fields, including microbiology, the study of microscopic organisms such as viruses and bacteria; cytology, the study of cells; embryology, the study of development; genetics, the study of heredity; biochemistry, the study of the chemical structures in living things; morphology, the study of the anatomy of plants and animals; taxonomy, the identification, naming, and classification of organisms; and physiology, the study of how organic systems function and respond to stimulation. Biology often interacts with other sciences, such as psychology. For example, animal behaviorists would need to understand the biological nature of the animal they are studying in order to evaluate a particular animal’s behavior. Biology research paper topics include:

  1. Adaptation
  2. Antibody and antigen
  3. Arachnids
  4. Bacteria
  5. Biodiversity
  6. Biome
  7. Biophysics
  8. Biosphere
  9. Carcinogen
  10. Cellulose
  11. Coelacanth
  12. Cryobiology
  13. Disease
  14. Ear
  15. Enzyme
  16. Eutrophication
  17. Evolution
  18. Fertilization
  19. Fungi
  20. Genetics
  21. Hibernation
  22. Hormones
  23. Indicator species
  24. Leaf
  25. Lipids
  26. Lymphatic system
  27. Metabolism
  28. Metamorphosis
  29. Molecular biology
  30. Mutation
  31. Parasites
  32. Photosynthesis
  33. Plague
  34. Plankton
  35. Protozoa
  36. Reproduction
  37. Respiration
  38. Rh factor
  39. Sponges
  40. Virus

Botany Research Paper Topics

Botany is a branch of biology that deals with plant life. It is the study of the structure and the vital processes of plants, including photosynthesis, respiration, and plant nutrition. Among the plants studied are flowering plants, trees, shrubs, and vines. Specialized areas within the field of botany include the study of mosses, algae, lichens, ferns, and fungi. Botany research paper topics include:

  1. Cellulose
  2. Cotton
  3. Flower
  4. Forests
  5. Horticulture
  6. Leaf
  7. Photosynthesis
  8. Plant
  9. Seed
  10. Trees

Chemistry Research Paper Topics

Chemistry is the study of the composition of matter and the changes that take place in that composition. If you place a bar of iron outside your window, the iron will soon begin to rust. If you pour vinegar on baking soda, the mixture fizzes. If you hold a sugar cube over a flame, the sugar begins to turn brown and give off steam. The goal of chemistry is to understand the composition of substances such as iron, vinegar, baking soda, and sugar and to understand what happens during the changes described here. Chemistry research paper topics include:

  1. Acids and bases
  2. Actinides
  3. Alcohols
  4. Alkali metals
  5. Aluminum family
  6. Atom
  7. Atomic mass
  8. Biochemistry
  9. Carbon family
  10. Catalyst and catalysis
  11. Chemical bond
  12. Colloid
  13. Compound, chemical
  14. Cyclamate
  15. Diffusion
  16. Dyes and pigments
  17. Electrolysis
  18. Element, chemical
  19. Equation, chemical
  20. Explosives
  21. Filtration
  22. Formula, chemical
  23. Halogens
  24. Hydrogen
  25. Industrial minerals
  26. Ionization
  27. Lanthanides
  28. Molecule
  29. Nitrogen family
  30. Oxidation-reduction reaction
  31. Oxygen family
  32. Ozone
  33. Periodic table
  34. pH
  35. Plastics
  36. Poisons and toxins
  37. Polymer
  38. Reaction, chemical
  39. Solution
  40. Transition elements

Ecology Research Paper Topics

Ecology is the study of the relationships of organisms with their living and nonliving environment. No organism exists entirely independently of other living and nonliving things around it. A cactus in the middle of the desert, for example, draws nourishment from the air and from the ground. It depends on sunlight for energy needed to grow. The cactus may be home to birds, lizards, and microscopic animals. Even relationships that seem to be stark and simple as that of the cactus with its surroundings involve complex ties that form the subject matter of ecology. Ecology research paper topics include:

  1. Acid rain
  2. Alternative energy sources
  3. Biodegradable
  4. Biodiversity
  5. Bioenergy
  6. Biome
  7. Biosphere
  8. Carbon cycle
  9. Composting
  10. Drought
  11. Ecosystem
  12. Endangered species
  13. Environmental ethics
  14. Erosion
  15. Eutrophication
  16. Food web and food chain
  17. Gaia hypothesis
  18. Greenhouse effect
  19. Hydrologic cycle
  20. Indicator species
  21. Nitrogen cycle
  22. Oil spills
  23. Organic farming
  24. Paleoecology
  25. Pollution
  26. Pollution control
  27. Rain forest
  28. Recycling
  29. Succession
  30. Waste management

Engineering Research Paper Topics

Engineering is the art of applying science, mathematics, and creativity to solve technological problems. The accomplishments of engineering can be seen in nearly every aspect of our daily lives, from transportation to communications to entertainment to health care. Engineering follows a three-step process: analyzing a problem, designing a solution for that problem, and transforming that design solution into physical reality. Engineering research paper topics include:

  1. Aerodynamics
  2. Aircraft
  3. Antenna
  4. Automation
  5. Automobile
  6. Battery
  7. Bridges
  8. Canal
  9. Cathode
  10. Compact disc
  11. Dam
  12. Diesel engine
  13. Diode
  14. Electric arc
  15. Electric current
  16. Electric motor
  17. Electricity
  18. Electrocardiogram
  19. Electromagnetic field
  20. Electromagnetic induction
  21. Electronics
  22. Fluorescent light
  23. Generator
  24. Incandescent light
  25. Integrated circuit
  26. Internal-combustion engine
  27. Jet engine
  28. LED (light-emitting diode)
  29. Magnetic recording
  30. Mass production
  31. Radar
  32. Radio
  33. Steam engine
  34. Submarine
  35. Superconductor
  36. Telephone
  37. Television
  38. Transformer
  39. Transistor
  40. Video recording

Genetics Research Paper Topics

Genetics is the branch of biology concerned with the science of heredity. The term heredity refers to the way in which specific characteristics are transmitted from one generation to the next. For example, we know that a tall mother and a tall father tend to have children that are tall. Geneticists (scientists who study genetics) are interested in finding out two things about this observation. First, what is there in the cells of a person’s body that directs the body to become tall rather than short. Second, how are the directions for “tallness” transmitted from parent to offspring, from one generation to the next? Genetics research paper topics include:

  1. Biotechnology
  2. Birth defects
  3. Cancer
  4. Chromosome
  5. Clone and cloning
  6. Genetic disorders
  7. Genetic engineering
  8. Human Genome Project
  9. Mendelian laws of inheritance
  10. Mutation

Geology Research Paper Topics

Geology is the scientific study of Earth. Geologists study the planet—its formation, its internal structure, its materials, its chemical and physical processes, and its history. Mountains, valleys, plains, sea floors, minerals, rocks, fossils, and the processes that create and destroy each of these are all the domain of the geologist. Geology is divided into two broad categories of study: physical geology and historical geology. Geology research paper topics include:

  1. Catastrophism
  2. Cave
  3. Coal
  4. Coast and beach
  5. Continental margin
  6. Desert
  7. Earthquake
  8. Earth science
  9. Earth’s interior
  10. Geologic map
  11. Geologic time
  12. Glacier
  13. Hydrologic cycle
  14. Ice ages
  15. Iceberg
  16. Island
  17. Lake
  18. Minerals
  19. Mountain
  20. Natural gas
  21. Oil drilling
  22. Plate tectonics
  23. River
  24. Soil
  25. Volcano

Mathematics Research Paper Topics

Mathematics is the science that deals with the measurement, properties, and relationships of quantities, as expressed in either numbers or symbols. For example, a farmer might decide to fence in a field and plant oats there. He would have to use mathematics to measure the size of the field, to calculate the amount of fencing needed for the field, to determine how much seed he would have to buy, and to compute the cost of that seed. Mathematics is an essential part of every aspect of life—from determining the correct tip to leave for a waiter to calculating the speed of a space probe as it leaves Earth’s atmosphere. Mathematics research paper topics include:

  1. Algebra
  2. Arithmetic
  3. Boolean algebra
  4. Calculus
  5. Complex numbers
  6. Correlation
  7. Function
  8. Geometry
  9. Graphs and graphing
  10. Imaginary number
  11. Logarithm
  12. Multiplication
  13. Natural numbers
  14. Polygon
  15. Proof (mathematics)
  16. Pythagorean theorem
  17. Set theory
  18. Statistics
  19. Trigonometry
  20. Zero

Organic Chemistry Research Paper Topics

Organic chemistry is the study of compounds of carbon. The name organic goes back to a much earlier time in history when chemists thought that chemical compounds in living organisms were fundamentally different from those that occur in nonliving things. The belief was that the chemicals that could be extracted from or that were produced by living organisms had a special “vitalism” or “breath of life” given to them by some supernatural being. As such, they presented fundamentally different kinds of problems than did the chemicals found in rocks, minerals, water, air, and other nonliving entities. The chemical compounds associated with living organisms were given the name organic to emphasize their connection with life. Organic chemistry research paper topics include:

  1. Carbon family
  2. Coal
  3. Cyclamate
  4. Dioxin
  5. Fermentation
  6. Hydrogen
  7. Hydrologic cycle
  8. Lipids
  9. Natural gas
  10. Nitrogen cycle
  11. Nitrogen family
  12. Oxygen family
  13. Ozone
  14. Petroleum
  15. Vitamin

Paleontology Research Paper Topics

Paleontology is the study of ancient life-forms of past geologic periods. Paleontologists learn about ancient animals and plants mainly through the study of fossils. These may be the actual remains of the animal or plant or simply traces the organism left behind (tracks, burrows, or imprints left in fine sediments). Paleontology research paper topics include:

  1. Dating techniques
  2. Dinosaur
  3. Evolution
  4. Fossil and fossilization
  5. Paleoecology

Physics Research Paper Topics

Physics is the science that deals with matter and energy and with the interaction between them. Perhaps you would like to determine how best to aim a rifle in order to hit a target with a bullet. Or you want to know how to build a ship out of steel and make sure that it will float. Or you plan to design a house that can be heated just with sunlight. Physics can be used in answering any of these questions. Physics research paper topics include:

  1. Acceleration
  2. Aerodynamics
  3. Antiparticle
  4. Atomic theory
  5. Ballistics
  6. Buoyancy
  7. Cathode
  8. Cathode-ray tube
  9. Color
  10. Conservation laws
  11. Cryogenics
  12. Density
  13. Diffraction
  14. Doppler effect
  15. Elasticity
  16. Electric current
  17. Electricity
  18. Electromagnetic field
  19. Electromagnetism
  20. Electron
  21. Energy
  22. Evaporation
  23. Fluid dynamics
  24. Frequency
  25. Gases
  26. Gravity and gravitation
  27. Gyroscope
  28. Half-life
  29. Heat
  30. Interference
  31. Ionization
  32. Isotope
  33. Laser
  34. Laws of motion
  35. Light
  36. Magnetism
  37. Mass
  38. Molecule
  39. Momentum
  40. Nuclear fission
  41. Nuclear fusion
  42. Particle accelerators
  43. Photoelectric effect
  44. Pressure
  45. Quantum mechanics
  46. Radiation
  47. Radioactivity
  48. Relativity theory
  49. Spectrum
  50. Subatomic particles
  51. Temperature
  52. Thermodynamics
  53. Time
  54. Tunneling
  55. Vacuum
  56. Video recording
  57. Virtual reality
  58. Volume
  59. Wave motion
  60. X-ray

What is Science?

The term science (in Latin scientia, in Greek epistémé) means “knowledge.” In philosophy it refers strictly to proven ideas, to the exclusion of hypotheses or speculations. Until the twentieth century, proof remained mysterious, but what it achieves has been clear since antiquity: certainty, truth unshakable by criticism or doubt. In the nineteenth century Newtonian mechanics was admitted as scientific in this strict sense, and its overthrow was an earthquake. Scholars now agree that certitude is limited to logic and mathematics. Thus scientists have shifted their efforts toward securing for science a surrogate certainty—usually probability.

This shift raises many new questions, thus far unstudied. For example, is Isaac Newton’s theory still scientific? In 1962 the historian of science Thomas S. Kuhn spoke of “pre-science” and of “petrified science.” Which defunct theory should remain in the up-to-date science textbook? Kuhn suggested that it should present only the latest ideas. Which ones? If not proof, what makes an idea scientific? This is one version of the problem of the demarcation of science (as sets of statements) in disregard for other aspects of the scientific enterprise and its context— intellectual, educational, sociopolitical, and so on. Another possible point of departure is the social dimension of science. In the early seventeenth century the English philosopher Francis Bacon said that the advancement of science would improve the human condition, so investing efforts in scientific research would be the most efficient way to spend one’s spare time. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the early-nineteenth-century German philosopher, noted that the invention of gunpowder made city walls useless and so altered the political landscape. The German political philosopher Karl Marx in the nineteenth century equated science with technology (grosso modo) and declared all social and political changes as due to technological progress. Following on Marx, in 1939 the English physicist J. D. Bernal made the dubious claim that medieval science was superior to ancient science. In 1964 the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser rejected many of Marx’s sweeping generalizations but still declared the humanities mostly errors that express bourgeois ideology; he contrasted this ideology with science proper, which includes both the exact sciences and revolutionary dialectical materialism as he understood it. He did not trouble himself to demarcate these fields sufficiently to invite detailed discussions as to whether a certain theory, say, in physics or in economics, is or is not scientific. In 1919—decades before Althusser—the American economist Thorstein Veblen studied the nature of science in an effort to examine the validity of claims for the scientific status of diverse economic theories, including that of Marx. He demarcated science historically, by reference to the scientific ethos that, he said, these theories represent; this ethos is often called humanism, the same ethos that Althusser later dismissed as bourgeois. Veblen also drew attention to the wealth of empirical finds and role of theories as explanatory (as opposed to classificatory).

Twentieth-century social science developed ideas about specific aspects of society, including prestige—social prestige, the prestige of ideas, and the prestige of scientific ideas. (Prestige is enhanced by power over life; thus nuclear physics is most prestigious.) The concept of science must include the gathering of some sort of empirical information and the search for some interconnections between that information and certain ideas. Science then appears to involve intellectual activities of some sort.

Already four centuries ago Bacon deemed science the outcome of the indiscriminate collection of factual information and its use as a solid foundation on which to construct truly scientific ideas. His view, perhaps modified, prevails as the myth of science. (Being a myth proper, it is used at times in its original variant and at other times in modification.) The problem of demarcation then becomes: What do I know, and how can I show that I truly know it? This approach puts science in a psychological context, raising the question, as suggested by the twentieth-century philosopher of science Karl Popper: Is the psychology used to characterize science scientific? Science is also a publicly available fund of knowledge; the traditional view of it as psychological leads to the view (characteristic of the approaches known as reductionism and psychologism) of everything social as inherently psychological.

If science can be viewed as psychological, so too can mathematics, as suggested by Bacon and the nineteenthcentury English philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill. The refutation of this notion led to the revolutionary shift of the view of knowledge from psychology to sociology—from my knowledge to ours—opening the way for the study of the enterprise of science, its prestige, and the social class of its practitioners. This in turn opens interesting secondary questions: Are the teaching of science and the administration of science scientific? (Is the dean of the faculty of science a scientist?) Is all sciencebased technology scientific? The sociology of science, a young discipline hatched in the early twentieth century, has not yet reached these questions. Such questions pose a difficulty: Science is international, but science-based professions are not. (Compare Japanese science with Japanese technology.) Come to think of it, how international is science? (Is establishing some lingua franca for science advisable?)

Here is a general dispute about all human studies: Existentialists and postmodernists want them to be utterly context dependent, case by case; positivists and analysts want them utterly context free. Seeking a middle ground in sociological laws to set limits on fragmentation, one may view social institutions as generalizations that determine the extent of context dependence. Money is one such institution. Rather than speak separately of the interests of every economic agent, we speak of their profit motive, which, as Georg Simmel argued in 1900, is an intermediary. This role of money makes it important and explains the success of the economic theory that eliminates it from its equations (by replacing prices with relative prices). The trouble is, while waiting for sociology to develop, how should social scientists proceed? They can make use of trivial sociology that at times is powerful. The suitable general concept here is that of games or science regulated by recognized rules (usually institutionalized). Games need not be problematic unless placed under the artificial limitations imposed in game theory, and as in the case of war games, they need not always be frivolous. As to the triviality of the sociology of games, it is advantageous: It stops the question-begging nature of the theory of science from becoming a nuisance. Thus the rules of the game are negotiable. The game of science then might, but need not, exclude science administration, science education, (science-based) technology, and more. Also the rules may be flexible. All this is a secondary issue, as it obviously should be, as long as science remains chiefly the search for ideas and information of a certain kind. The problem of demarcation now reappears: Which kind? Any kind we want.

As this view of science allows excessive freedom, it also invites instituting limitations—to some function, to some tradition, or to some existing paradigms. Paradigms can be ideas (Newton on gravity), preferred ideas (Einstein), institutions (the Royal Society of London, the local medical school, the patent office), traditions, perhaps ways of life. Approaches to problems via paradigms are limited: Taken too seriously, they prove troublesome as too much may depend on an innocent arbitrary choice. The paradigm of this trouble concerns choices of words resting on the view that the commonness of usage is its only justification. We do not want all usage justified, because we want language to function as a useful means for communication.

What then is the function of science? Among several functions, its most conspicuous is explanation, discovery, invention, better living. Jumping a few steps ahead, one can say that its chief function is the search for true explanations (as suggested by Newton, Einstein, and Popper). Its other functions are peripheral. Assuming this to be the case, one can view science as primarily but not solely the enterprise of approaching true explanations of increasing funds of publicly available information.

This is lovely but full of holes. How do we learn from experience? In what way are scientific theories empirical? Popper broke new ground when he said that theories are empirical when they exclude certain observations and to the extent that they do so. Testing them is, then, the search for these observations; the function of testing theories is to refute them so as to usher in their successors. Applying such a test to the theories of Marx and Sigmund Freud, Popper proved them nonempirical. This approach depends on the exact wording of theories, which may become testable by the enrichment of their contents. Popper later tried to square the two ideas: that the empirical is the refutable and that the aim of theorizing is the approximation of the truth (Einstein). The success of his attempt is under debate.

Robert K. Merton approached matters more historically. In 1938, in the wake of Max Weber, the German sociologist of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, Merton identified the scientific revolution with the establishment of the Royal Society of London and the motive for it as Protestantism. He then developed a quasi-Weberian model of science, resting on the theory of science of William Whewell (1840, 1858). Merton’s views earned much fame and much criticism. The criticism is at times valid, as Whewell’s view is outdated, and at times based on trivial evidence that he idealized science (which he frankly admitted), both in the sense of presenting it at its best and in the sense that Weber recommended the developing of an ideal type. Reports on poor examples of laboratory life as if they were representative appeared as alleged refutations of his views, although fraud is hard to eradicate anywhere.

The presentation of science by Michael Polanyi (1958, 1966) is the most intriguing, even though he played down the rationality of science. He compared the sociology of science to that of the arts and deemed both artistic and scientific training as the tacit transmission of ways of life in workshops by way of personal example. Polanyi’s view is insightful and beneficial, although it overstresses tradition as endorsement while slighting the traditional encouragement of criticism and of independence (as suggested by Popper). Polanyi was in error when he ignored efforts to render the tacit explicit and open the results to criticism.

Polanyi’s views were further developed by Kuhn, who wished to extend the instruction of leaders beyond their immediate personal example limited to their workshops. Their products can travel and serve as substitutes for personal examples. These become chief examples or, in Greek, paradigms. A science is mature, he said, as it gains a ruling paradigm. This notion appealed to those who wanted their products to serve as paradigms, especially in social studies, where the craving for status is strong. Kuhn later admitted that a territory can be divided between paradigms. He also admitted that identifying a paradigm is difficult. This difficulty should not trouble followers of Polanyi, but it does bother followers of Kuhn, as he declared paradigms obligatory. Kuhn’s approach runs contrary to the view of Merton about the liberalism of science. Kuhn also declared his theory applicable only to the study of nature, not of society.

How do the studies of nature and society differ? Any discussion of this question has to be in accord with one view of science or another. One may of course go to and fro, using the best view of science to differentiate natural and social science and then taking the best differentiation one has to try to learn what it says about science. One thing is certain: Social sciences have a more important role to play in the discussion of science than was heretofore believed.

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