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April 12, 2017

Essay : Man and Science - Development in Science and Technology

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Man and Science - Development in Science and Technology

  • Define science and technology.
  • Difference between invention and discovery. 
  • Inventions in the field of industry revolutionised Europe.
  • Some greatest inventions are steam engine, oil drilling system, telephone, radio, internet etc.
  • Some other important inventions of printing press, paper, fountain pen, personal computers etc. 
  • Inventions in the field of medicine, viz, penicillin, anesthesia, prevention of genetic disorder etc. 
  • Inventions in the field of communication reduced the commuting time. 
  • Some inventions revolutioned our life, but some are detrimental to our existence.
The way we interact with nature, the way man interacts with man, the way man interacts with the universe has been defined by science since ages. Today, the way research and development is taking place in the field of science and technology has changed the way we consume knowledge. Science can be defined as the human endeavour to understand the behaviour of nature by observation and experiment by systematic analysis of general laws and principles of nature. Technology on the other hand is the application of science for practical purposes.

In that sense, technology is the interface between man and nature. Similarly, there is some fundamental difference between invention and discovery. Invention is the production of some novel concept by use of one's own idea and development.

Inventions are unique but the physical material needed for its production already exists. Discovery, on the other hand recognising some already existing phenomena for the first time, that nobody has found before. Inventions in the field of industry which revolutionised Europe in 18th and 19th century were steam engine; steel making with the use of iron; exploration of crude oil by underground drilling and underwater rigging; powerloom etc. James Watt, a Scottish engineer developed steam engine in 1760s. The greatest application of steam engine came in the form of locomotives for transporting goods, raw material and even people. Building of robust infrastructure after industrial revolution required application of metal. Metallurgy of iron and its steel making became a game changer. The physical infrastructure being made by application of steel were robust and durable. Oil drilling and oil refining began in mid 19th century. The whole of 20th century modern economy has been driven by crude oil and its associated geopolitics. During the industrial revolution in Europe, Britain in particular revolution in textile industry. In 1784, the inventions of powerloom put Britain ahead of many other countries during the industrial revolution phase. Innovations that allowed communications on a real time basis changed the way we exchanged ideas and information. Innovations of telephone, radio, internet are notable in this field.

Alexander Graham Bell is credited with the invention of telephone in 1876. His invention was the first bi-directional device which was a major shift from earlier invention. Similarly, towards the beginning of 20th century, Guglielmo Marconi developed radio device which was able to do long distance communication.

All the communication devices today use radio for communication, for example mobile phone, walkie-talkie etc. In the 1980s internet was invented. Decades preceding 1980s used networks for communication. But its pan-world applicability started in 1980s. Internet Protocol (1982), Domain Name System (DNS) in 1983, World Wide Web 1991 etc were major landmarks in the field of internet. Internet has truly revolutionised the way exchange of idea and information takes place in the world today.

In the field of human intellect which has the ability to transform the society from a traditional society to a modern one. Some notable inventions are printing press, paper, fountain pen, personal computer etc. In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. This invention of last century changed the way people conceive and express about the world we live in. Similarly, paper was invented in China in the Han dynasty in 200 BC. Charles Fenerty is credited with invention of newsprint with woodpulp. Before the application of woodpulp to make paper, rags was used to make paper.

However, these inventions were relegated with the invention of computer. The electronics and digital revolution changed the world for better. Charles Babbage is regarded as the father of computer. But the modern digital computer was invented by Alan Turing in 1936. In today's world computer has simplified the work of man in many ways. Also it works as a medium of dissemination of knowledge and information. In the field of medicine which allowed extending the life span of man are, penicillin, vaccination, anesthesia, refrigeration etc.

In 1928, Penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming. Penicillin is a group of antibiotics which is effective against bacterial disease. Many disease were cured due to application of Penicillin thereby lowering the mortality rate. The role of vaccines in administration of antigenic material to stimulate on individual's immunity was a great stride in the field of medicine. The invention of vaccination dates back to India and China in 10th century. Similarly, anesthesia in the field of medicine which can be attributed to distinguish surgery from torture. Use of alcohol, opium for surgery in ancient times were not uncommon. In 1772, Joseph Priestley discovered the gas nitrous oxide which in 1845 was used for inhalational anesthesia. Discovery of refrigeration changed the way we eat and live in 1850s. James Harrison is credited with the first vapour compression refrigeration system.

This concept is widely used in the field of medicine which increases the shelf life of materials. Some very recent inventions in the field of medicine which has added to the lifespan and quality of life of man are the following. 'Three Parent Baby' a concept developed in Britain will change the lifespan of mankind. The concept allows genes from three different parents to be fused in one embryo. Any two genes of original parent if found with any disorder can be replaced by the third gene. This will disallow passage of genetic disorder to the newer generation, thereby expanding the lifespan. Another invention which has allowed for increasing the quality of life of man is bionic.

This is used in limbs, eyes etc. Bionic limb allows handicapped persons with technology enabled limbs which can also perform movements. Similarly, bionic eyes allows a blind person to see the world with the help of computer chips. Innovations which reduced the commuting time of people and goods were, internal combustion engine, airplanes etc. The credit for internal combustion engine goes to Karl Benz in 1879. These engine are used in automobiles. In 1893, Rudolf Diesel invented compression ignition engine.

The Wright brothers are credited for inventing and building of first successful aeroplane. In 1903, they made their first successful attempt to fly aeroplane. Today these inventions has come a long way and have been an immense contributor towards our progress. Similarly, in the field of technology the invention and commercial production of 3-D printers will revolutionise the world in the coming decades. 3-D printers are now being used in the international space stations for producing any desired part for replacement in the space station.

This will also augment the organ transplant surgeries and stem cell therapy. Research is under way which can produce organs like kidney and liver for transplant. Inventions of science have also been a threat to the survival of humanity. Invention of gunpowder, nuclear reaction have been innovations which has been detrimental to our existence.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "Science without humanity is a sin". Science and technology, therefore should have constructive, progressive connotation. Science is a way of life. Science is a perspective. Science is a process that takes us from confusion to understanding in a manner that is precise, predictive and reliable. Science and technology is not the panacea for the growth and security of the nation. Science does provide a platform of rationality. But this rationality should not be devoid of emotions, intuitions and most importantly ethics and virtue.

Difficult Words with Meanings :
  • Dissemination to scatter widely
  • Antigenic substance that can stimulate production of antibiotics
  • Immunity the condition that permits either natural or acquired resistance to disease
  • Bionic utilising electronic devices and mechanical parts to assist humans in performing difficult, dangerous, or intricate tasks
  • Augment to enlarge in size, number, strength, or extent
  • Connotation associated or secondary meaning of a word or expression
  • Perspective a mental view or prospect
shared by Nisheeta Mirchandani
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