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Let's imagine that Scientist A works in some field but obviously they don't do everything from scratch but rather built upon past discoveries of, for example, Scientist B who lived 200 years before Scientist A was born.

I'm looking for a word or a phrase that would describe this situation. I thought of "intergenerational cooperation" but wouldn't the word "intergenerational" imply that it refers to cooperation between of e.g. a 20-year-old and a 80-year-old living in the same times? Can I use this phrase in this context?

Do you have any beter ideas for a phrase?

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    "Transgenerational", that means acting across multiple generations, may be a better choice than intergenerational. – Graffito Nov 21 '15 at 12:41
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    "Cooperation" means working together. You can't work together with a dead person. – user140086 Nov 21 '15 at 12:45
  • @Rathony -- Odd, there's a raft of recent movies and TV shows that say you can. – Hot Licks Nov 21 '15 at 12:47
  • @HotLicks The dead persons appear in the movies or shows, don't they? – user140086 Nov 21 '15 at 12:48
  • @Rathony - You're right about "cooperation", so with what word would you replace it? – Richard Smith Nov 21 '15 at 14:08
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If I have seen further it is because I have stood upon the shoulders of giants. Or words to that effect. Think it was Newton who said it originally, but it's a widely echoed sentiment and particularly relevant to science.

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Redefining the wheel:

Redefining the wheel is the practice of coming up with new and often abstruse ways of describing things when the existing way of describing them was perfectly adequate.

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