Impact of Science on Society

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THE IMPACT OF SCIENCE ON SOCIETY
James Burke Jules Bergman Isaac Asimov

NASA SP-482

THE IMPACT OF SCIENCE ON SOCIETY
James Burke Jules Bergman Isaac Asimov

Prepared by Langley Research Center

Scientific and Technical Information Branch

1985

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Washington, DC

Library of Congress Cataloging in PublicationData
Burke, James, 1936The impact of science on society. (NASA SP ; 482) Series of lectures given at a public lecture series sponsored by NASA and the College of William and Mary in 1983. 1 . Science-Social aspects-Addresses, essays, lectures. I. Bergman, Jules. 11. Asimov, Isaac, 1920. 111. United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. IV.College of William and Mary. V. Title. VI. Series. Q175.55.B88 1985 303.4’83 84-1 4 1 59

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office Washington, D.C. 20402

Foreword
Science and technology have had a major impact on society, and their impact is growing. By drastically changing our means of communication, the way we work, our housing, clothes, and food, our methods of transportation, and, indeed, even the length and quality of life itself, science has generated changes in the moral values and basic philosophies of mankind. Beginning with the plow, science has changed how we live and what we believe. By making life easier, science has given man the chance to pursue societal concerns such as ethics, aesthetics, education, and justice; to create cultures; and to improve human conditions. But it has also placed us in the unique position of being able to destroy ourselves. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1983, NASA and The College of William and Mary jointly sponsored a series of public lectures on the impact of science on society. These lectures were delivered by British historian James Burke, ABC T V science editor and reporter Jules Bergman, and scientist and science fiction writer Dr. Isaac Asimov. These authorities covered the impact of science on society from the time of man’sfirst significant scientific invention to that of expected future scientific advances. The papers are edited transcripts of these speeches. Since the talks were generally given extemporaneously, the papers are necessarily informal and may, therefore, differ in style from the authors’ more formal works. As the included audience questions illustrate, the topic raises far-reaching issues and concerns serious aspects of our lives and future. Donald P. Hearth Former Director NASA Langley Research Center

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Contents
Foreword

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

iii
3

The Legacy of Science

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . .

James Burke
Accomplishments of Science by the Year 2000 Jules Bergman Our Future in the Cosmos-Computers

33

. . . . . . . . .

59

Isaac Asimov
Our Future in the Cosmos-Space

. . . . . . . . . . .

79

Isaac Asimov

V

The Legacy of Science
James Burke

James Burke
For more than a decade, James Burke has been one of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s outstanding television writers, hosts, and producers. Born in Northern Ireland and educated at Oxford University, Burke spent 5 years in Italy teaching at the Universities of Bologna and Urbino and directing the English Schools in Bologna and Rome. He made his television debut in 1965 as a reporter for Granada Television’s Rome Bureau. Burke’s impressive following in the British Isles dates back t o 1966, when he joined the BBC’s weekly science show, Tomorrow’s World. As the chief BBC correspondent for all Apollo space flights, Burke won critical acclaim for his interpretation of the US space program to an audience of over 12 million people. During this time he developed and presented a variety of documentaries, and in 1972 he became the host of his own weekly prime-time science series, The...
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