Saturday, June 28, 2014

Technology vs Science

There were a couple of thought provoking discussion questions in this past week that I thought were worthy of sharing with my geek fans, and anyone else that is interested in reading about it.  Due to the use of some other sources, I will note those for anyone interested in taking a closer look.  Please feel free to add your 2 cents in to the comments.

To discuss with would be a better choice from my point of view, I first want to talk about how technology stimulates Science, and vice versa.

How does technology stimulate science?

Technology stimulates scientific discovery in many ways.  One of the ways in which it can stimulate scientific discovery is by proving or disproving scientific theories, as was the case with the steam injector.  The steam injector patented by Henri Giffard, showed that the caloric theory of heat was not as all-encompassing as previously thought.  Giffard based his injector on the Bernoulli principle of pressure and velocity.  The result was that Giffard’s steam injector was supporting proof of the then unpopular kinetic theory of heat.  The steam injector was able to show that one theory of heat was more accurate than another.   As stated by Volti, the steam injector was “an example of a technology that worked even though existing scientific principles did not completely explain its operation.”
According to Volti, “Technological development also plays a vital role in scientific advance by supplying devices and instruments that are essential for scientific inquiry.”   The 3-D printer is one of many examples of this, with its almost limitless possibilities.  NASA is currently doing testing on a 3-D printer to enable it to be used on the Space Station.   Greenemeier states that “The ability to resupply far from Earth would give such a vessel the ability to carry out longer, deep-space missions.”  If this is the case, than this particular technological device would allow for even more scientific advancements to take place.  Increased time in space, and the ability to go further, could lead to a myriad of new discoveries.  Although science is reliant upon technological creations for advancement, technology would be just as crippled without science.
Technology and science work hand in hand, in a cycle of reliability.  “Both are based on the gathering of knowledge, and they both advance through the cumulative development of that knowledge.”  Scientific advancements today are reliant upon previous technology, which was reliant upon even earlier scientific advancements, and so on.  This was shown clearly in the studying of genetics with the use of the technological tool of medical image analysis.  Without the scientific need for analysis this technology would not have been created, let alone advanced to the state that it is now.  In turn by using this advanced technology, it was able to once again affect scientific advancement.  The scientist Woo Suk Hwong claimed in 2004 that he had successfully cloned a human embryonic stem cell.  However as shown by Understanding Science, “through the close scrutiny of images in his published work that appeared to be duplicated and manipulated, this so-called breakthrough was revealed to be a fraud.”   Without technology, the scientific advancement that is this study, and resulting inventions, with regards to genetics today, would not have been possible.

Would you choose a scientific discovery or technological invention?

The answer to this question was easy for me; I would of course choose to invent a technology.  From the days of my youth, and my dream of one day becoming a marine biologist, I learned a lot about biology and science.  I also learned that it was not for me.  Science revolves around theorems…  These can change so drastically with time and be completely dis-proven after decades and even centuries of pouring one-self into the work.  The steam injector that I used in the scientific advancement discussion is one such example.  As stated by Volti, the steam injector was “an example of a technology that worked even though existing scientific principles did not completely explain its operation.”  The steam injector laughed in the face of the caloric theory and brought the kinetic theory of heat out as the winner that we still rely on today. 
Discovering something doesn’t mean that it will be useful now or ever.  Just the simple act of discovery is not enough.  Without a complimentary technology that can utilize the scientific discovery and make it work, it will never be able to reach its potential as a successful discovery.  Many scientific discoveries take so long to be realized as useful, that the person that discovered them cannot be a part of reveling in the glory of its impact on the world.  Volti declares “Whereas science is directed at the discovery of knowledge for its own sake, technology develops and employs knowledge in order to get something done.”  Therefore, an invention has the opportunity to bring a use to the world, and add more than just a resource. 
Technology can be accomplished on at least some sort of a schedule.  A technological project can be laid out on paper and in worksheets and plan for the end of a beta version of the technology.   These steps can be broken down and in turn show a final project and allow for plans to improve upon the technology.  However when it comes to scientific discovery, as affirmed by Volti, “Scientific research, especially when directed at the discovery of basic principles, is an uncertain endeavor that cannot be guided by schedules and routinized procedures.”  As an analytical thinker, I would much prefer being able to intimately know the project I was working on and be able to create something useful to add to the world, this is why I choose a technological invention. 
Does Technology Stimulate Science?

I also utilized the book Society and Technological Change (7th ed.) by Rudi Volti. 

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