Scientific research has a history of thousands of years. Science has offered many gifts to mankind. Fire was the first discovery and wheel was the first invention. Since that time we have travelled far. Scientists like Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton, and many others have turned the tables of the world. Science had brought great laurels in every field but it has really shone in technology. We have access to some of the most advanced technical inventions. A few centuries ago a mastermind – Leonardo da Vinci made the first blue-print for an aeroplane. Today planes of different modifications are used for many purposes. NASA launched a Space Shuttle called Discovery. Space exploration has become a reality.
Sometimes we ask the question, “What is the most important gift of science?” To my mind electricity is a gift of science without which the modern civilization can not survive. If we stop using it, the whole world would come to a standstill. And the most important devices of today are the time-measuring device and the computer. A time-measuring device (a clock or a watch) regulates the activities and functionalities of our life – ranging from personal life to communication and transportation. A computer controls both personal and impersonal issues at local and global levels. How chaotic life could result if these two devices stop functioning all of a sudden!
To many people, one of the most famous inventions of the 20th century is the automobile. The greatest car maker of the age is undoubtedly Henry Ford. Today Lamborgini, Masseratti, and Maybachs are packed with newer inventions of the day. These are mechanical devices which have made us a Nano-race.
Engineering on the nano-scale isn’t a new thing. Clothes have just got clever with nanotechnology: the materials stay clean, warm, strong and dry.
Nanotechnology is big news in sport. Tennis and golf players, skiers and mountain bikers are already enjoying the advanced technology with lighter, stronger sports equipment.
The displays on everything from iPods and cell phones to flat screen TVs are made from plastic built on the nanoscale.
One of the most exciting areas of nanotechnology is building incredibly small machines from individual atoms. Nanomachines could be made into nanorobots (sometimes called “nanobots”) that could be injected into our bodies to carry out repairs or sent into dangerous environments.
Nanotechnology can be used in the food industry right from field to table. For example, nanomaterials could help keep food fresh for longer. Scientists are already manufacturing nano-sized vitamins that are easier for our bodies to take in. In the future they hope to create ‘interactive’ food – food and drink that could change colour, flavour or ingredients on demand.
We have come into a digital age. Computers have given way to laptops and palmtops. Picture-tube televisions have metamorphosed into LCDs and Plasma. Some of us live in smart homes that obviously make life easier and more convenient. Anything in your home that uses electricity can be put on the home network and at your command. Whether you give that command by voice, remote control or computer, the home reacts. Security systems can be built to provide help in an emergency.
The mobiles have turned into a complete island of entertainment and communication.
Internet has made possible many things: online education, communication and other unlimited opportunities. You can visit your distant relatives on the other side of the globe within a day. You can look at an award ceremony held in London. You can put thousand pages of text into a pin size chip and still have plenty of space left.
But some of modern discoveries cause heated debates. One such problem is human cloning. Supporters of human cloning say it could ease pain and prolong life. They also say cloning would expand the boundaries of reproductive choice. Opponents of cloning say that human cloning projects are criminally irresponsible. Nowadays several governments around the world have banned public money being spent on human cloning research.
Society is facing many important decisions about the use of science and technology. These decisions affect the environment, human health, society and international policy. To resolve these issues, and develop principles to help us make decisions we need to involve anthropology, sociology, biology, medicine, religion, psychology, philosophy, and economics; we must combine the scientific rigour of biological data, with the values of religion and philosophy to develop a world-view.