History of Science and Technology

Topics: Science, World War II, Scientific method Pages: 2 (451 words) Published: May 20, 2013
The history of science and technology (HST) is a field of history which examines how humanity understands of the natural world (science) and ability to manipulate it (technology) has changed over the centuries. This academic discipline also studies the cultural, economic, and political impacts of scientific innovation. The twentieth century witnessed a fateful change in the relationship between science and society. In World War I scientists were conscripted and died in the trenches. In World War II they were exempted as national treasures and committed to secrecy, and they rallied behind their country’s war effort. The explanation of the change is not hard to find—governments came to believe that theoretical research can produce practical improvements in industry, agriculture, and medicine. That belief was firmly reinforced by developments such as the discovery of antibiotics and the application of nuclear physics to the production of atomic weapons. Science became so identified with practical benefits that the dependence of technology on science is commonly assumed to be a timeless relationship and a single enterprise. Science and technology, research and development—these are assumed to be almost inseparable twins. These rank among the sacred phrases of our time. The belief in the coupling of science and technology is now petrified in the dictionary definition of technology as applied science, and journalistic reports under the rubric of “science news” are, in fact, often accounts of engineering rather than scientific achievements. Histories of science were originally written by practicing and retired scientists, starting primarily with William Whewell, as a way to communicate the virtues of science to the public. In the early 1930s, after a famous paper given by the Soviet historian Boris Hessen, was focused into looking at the ways in which scientific practices were allied with the needs and motivations of their context....
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