How will science and technology change your lives in the future?

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How will science and technology change your lives in the future? Though humans may try to predict the future, nobody seems to ever get it completely right. But when it comes to the job market, one thing is certain: with the world experiencing one scientific breakthrough after another, exciting new career possibilities are bound to emerge. It may sound like science fiction, but what seems far-fetched today is often the technology of tomorrow. “Technologies like the Internet, cell phones, and personal computers are as common as breakfast cereal, but there was a time when people couldn’t even conceive of them,” says Dennis Guthrie, Ph.D., a researcher for the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan. “It’s obvious some of the commonplace technologies of tomorrow are either just in their infancy today or not even conceived yet.” As these technologies develop, career options will also appear—in some cases, entirely new occupations—and jobs that already exist today will be performed in new ways. Professor David Wu, Dean of the Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, says that while it may not be possible to predict future career profiles with much accuracy, society’s demands for progress in a number of areas will lead to some challenging career options. “The influence upon tomorrow’s job market will be profound,” he says. Here are just a few areas where advances in science and engineering may lead to some fascinating jobs. ------------------------------------------------- Energy Energy is sure to be at the center of research and development in the coming years. Everybody knows that rapidly depleting fossil fuels won’t be available forever, yet the world’s demand for energy refuses to slow down. “The world needs energy to grow and develop economically,” Guthrie says. “Where will it come from? Whatever we do, it has to be sustainable. Many analysts are predicting that the real job growth over the next five to 10 years will be in careers related to sustainability.” In particular, renewable energy is almost guaranteed to be a major focus in the future and thus a great prospective job. “If you’ve got an interest in wind, solar, and other forms of renewable energy, the U.S. government is investing billions to develop these technologies while opening up thousands of new green collar job opportunities,” says Jeff Cohen, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Recession-Proof Careers (Alpha Books, 2010). “It’s a thriving career choice for people interested in solving our country’s energy needs through sustainable means.” At the same time, traditional sources of energy will continue to be used for decades (if not longer), and many career openings will be available. They will address needs ranging from finding and extracting more petroleum and natural gas to improving the safety of coal mining, reducing the pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, and expanding the safe use of nuclear energy.  “There is tremendous need for people who can develop solutions and improve the infrastructure re-quired to generate, store, deliver, and consume energy while minimizing environmental impact,” Wu says. Experts expect this need to grow, resulting in new jobs for scientists, engineers, technicians, and other specialists in a variety of roles. Who knows where it will all lead? Job titles such as battery technician, wind management specialist, and fusion engineer may become commonplace. Certainly there will be a variety of new types of jobs in areas such as solar energy production, the use of powerful batteries to replace gasoline engines, efforts to capture energy from ocean currents, and the development of equipment and building materials that conserve energy, among many others. ------------------------------------------------- Nanotechnology  Just how small is small? In the world of nanotechnology, the answer is, “very.” The term “nano” generally equates to one-billionth (example: a nanometer...
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