After the Viceroyalty of New Spain was founded, the Spanish brought the scientific culture that dominated Spain to the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The municipal government (cabildo) of Mexico City formally requested the Spanish crown to establish a university in 1539. The Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico (Real y Pontificia Universidad de México) was established in 1551. The university was administered by the clergy and it was the official university of the empire. It provided quality education for the people, and it was a hub of intellectual and religious development in the region. It taught subjects such as physics and mathematics from the perspective of Aristotelian philosophy. Augustinian philosopher Alonso Gutiérrez wrote Physica speculatio, America's first scientific text, in 1557. By the late eighteenth century, the university had trained 1,162 doctors, 29,882 bachelors, and many lawyers.
During the Mexican Enlightenment, science can be divided into the four period: the early period (from 1735 to 1767), the creole period (from 1768 to 1788), the official or Spanish period (from 1789 to 1803), and the period of synthesis (from 1804 to the beginning of the Mexico's independence movement in 1810).
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, modern science developed in Europe, but it lagged behind in Mexico. The new ideas developed in science in Europe were not important in Mexico. The 1767 expulsion of Jesuits, who had introduced the new ideas in Mexico, helped to antagonize the creoles, and also promoted nation feelings among Mexicans.
Famous scientists of the Enlightenment included José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez and Andrés Manuel del Río. Río discovered the chemical element vanadium in 1801.
Mexican War of Independence brought temporary end to Mexico's scientific progress. The Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico closed in 1833. For many years, there were no scientific activities in Mexico. The Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico was definitively shut down in 1865.
During the end of the nineteenth century, the process of industrialization began in Mexico. Under the influence of positivists and scientific thinkers, the government assisted in public education. In 1867 Gabino Barreda, a student of Auguste Comte, was charged with the commission aimed at reforming education. Subjects such as physics, chemistry, and mathematics were included into the secondary school curriculum. National Preparatory School was established. The influence of positivists led to a renaissance of scientific activity in Mexico. General Manuel Mondragon, invented the first automatic rifle the Mondragón rifle during this time.
National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM) was officially established in 1910, and the university become one of the most important institutes of higher learning in Mexico. UNAM provides world class education in science, medicine, and engineering. Many scientific institutes and new institutes of higher learning, such as National Polytechnic Institute (founded in 1936), were established during the first half of the twentieth century. Most of the new research institutes were created within UNAM. Twelve institutes were integrated into UNAM from 1929 to 1973.
In 1959, the Mexican Academy of Sciences (Academia Mexicana de Ciencias) was established as a non-governmental, non-profit organization of distinguished scientists. The Academy has grown in membership and influence, and it represents a strong voice of scientists from different fields, mainly in science policy.
By 1960, science was institutionalized in Mexico. It was viewed as a legitimate endeavor by the Mexican society.
In 1960, the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute was established as a center for graduate studies in subjects such as biology, mathematics, and physics. In 1961, the institute began its graduate programs in physics and mathematics and schools of science were established in Mexican states of Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Monterrey, Veracruz, and Michoacán. The Academy for Scientific Research was established in 1969 and the National Council of Science and Technology was established in 1971.
In 1985 Rodolfo Neri Vela became the first Mexican citizen to enter space as part of the STS-61-B mission.
In 1995 Mexican chemist Mario J. Molina shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Paul J. Crutzen, and F. Sherwood Rowland for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone. Molina, an alumnus of UNAM, became the first Mexican citizen to win the Nobel Prize in science.
In recent years, the biggest scientific project being developed in Mexico was the construction of the Large Millimeter Telescope (Gran Telescopio Milimétrico, GMT), the world's largest and most sensitive single-aperture telescope in its frequency range. It was designed to observe regions of space obscured by stellar dust.
In 1962, the National Commission of Outer Space (Comisión Nacional del Espacio Exterior, CONNE) was established, but was dismantled in 1977. In 2007, a project was presented to re-open a new Mexican Space Agency (AEXA) and it was approved at the end of 2008 with the headquarters set to be located in the state of Hidalgo.
SEMAR and SEDENA have also developed advanced microprocessors, imaging systems, military A.I. systems, rockets, software, long range ballistic missiles, electronic devices and electronic military subsystems many of which have been sold to other Latin American nations. Other consumer electronics companies such as Mabe have been functioning since the nineteen fifties and have expanded out of Latin America into markets around the world such as Asia and Europe and even into the United States where a large percentage of American branded appliances are actually of Mexican design and origin but sold under local brand names. In fact as of 2008 one out of every four consumer appliances sold in the United States was of Mexican origin. According to the World Bank, production of high-technology good represented 22% of Mexico's GDP in 2000 with the high tech sector gorwing by roughly 63% yearly. Since the 1990s Mexico has produced advanced automobiles for foreign companies (mainly BMW and Mercedes-Benz), and for domestic coroporations such as Mastretta.
Based on the information managed by the Scopus, a bibliographic database for science, the Spanish web portal SCImago places Mexico in the position 18 of the country scientific ranking with 82,792 publications, and in the position 34 if considering its value of 134 for the h-index. Both positions are computed for the period 1996-2.
|Institute for Economics and Peace ||Global Peace Index||108 out of 144|
|United Nations Development Programme||Human Development Index||53 out of 182|
|Transparency International||Corruption Perceptions Index||89 out of 180|
|World Economic Forum||Global Competitiveness Report||60 out of 133|