I propose introducing optional game rule - to combat crazy tech advances such as "man on the moon" in 30s. It's rather simple - when researching tech that is X years (say 5) ahead of current year, add Y % (15?) to the cost and time per every year ahead (so 7 years ahead would mean 45% penalty).
This rule would simulate increasing difficulty to advance when you are ahead of everyone else and your industry starts to lag behind.. It would also probably remove the need for "empty techs" that are just pre-requisites..
Alternative way would be giving research bonuses for countries that trade with you and are behind, but the ahead of time penalty is probably easiest and yet effective solution.
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