A a scientific principle to specifically aid an automobile performance patent has run out. The principle has been used in other applications. Its use in bicycle design has recently been patented. There has been recent scientific research in marine applications to high speed ships. Can I patent application of this principle to small manually powered canoes, kayaks, or rowboats??
In general a scientific principle can be applied in many ways in many applications. Each might be unique but related. The previous use of the principle does not preempt all future inventing and patenting regarding the principle. But various applications can be similar enough as to not be patent ably distinct, or more likely, be obvious in light of the previous work. So, it depends.