Science and Technology

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SCIENCE

The word science comes from the Latin "scientia," meaning knowledge.

Science seeks to understand the natural world.

Knowledge attained through study or practice," or "knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world.

WHAT IS TECHNOLOGY

Technology is the process by which humans modify nature to meet their needs and wants. Most people, however, think of technology in terms of its artifacts: computers and software, aircraft, pesticides, water-treatment plants, birth-control pills, and microwave ovens, to name a few. But technology is more than these tangible products.

Technology includes the entire infrastructure necessary for the design, manufacture, operation, and repair of technological artifacts, from corporate headquarters and engineering schools to manufacturing plants and maintenance facilities. The knowledge and processes used to create and to operate technological artifacts -- engineering know-how, manufacturing expertise, and various technical skills -- are equally important part of technology.

Technology is a product of engineering and science, the study of the natural world. Science has two parts:

(1) a body of knowledge that has been accumulated over time and (2) a process-scientific inquiry-that generates knowledge about the natural world.

Engineering, too, consists of a body of knowledge-in this case knowledge of the design and creation of human-made products-and a process for solving problems. Science aims to understand the "why" and "how" of nature, engineering seeks to shape the natural world to meet human needs and wants. Engineering, therefore, could be called "design under constraint," with science-the laws of nature-being one of a number of limiting factors engineers must take into account. Other constraints include cost, reliability, safety, environmental impact, ease of use, available human and material resources, manufacturability, government regulations, laws, and even politics. In short, technology necessarily involves science and engineering.

Throughout the twentieth century the uses of the term have increased to the point where it now encompasses a number of “classes” of technology:

1. Technology as Objects

Tools, machines, instruments, weapons, and appliances - the physical devices of technical performance

2. Technology as Knowledge

The know-how behind technological innovation

3. Technology as Activities

What people do - their skills, methods, procedures, and routines

4. Technology as a Process

Begins with a need and ends with a solution

5. Technology as a Socio-technical System

The manufacture and use of objects involving people and other objects in combination

THE NATURE OF TECHNOLOGY

The nature of technology has changed dramatically in the past hundred years. Indeed, the very ideas of technology as we now conceive it is relatively new.

For most of human history, technology was mainly the province of craftsmen who passed their know-how down from generation to generation, gradually improving designs, and adding new techniques and materials. By the beginning of the twentieth century, technology had become a large-scale enterprise that depended on large stores of knowledge and know-how, too much for any one person to master. Large organizations were now required for the development, manufacture, and operation of new technologies. Complex networks of interdependent technologies were developed, such as the suite of technologies for the automobile. These include gas and oil refineries, filling stations and repair shops, tire manufacturers, automobile assembly plants, the highway system, and many more. The government began to play a larger role in shaping technology through technological policies and regulations.

The meaning of the word "technology" evolved to reflect these changes. In the nineteenth...
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