Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Science and Man

Science and modern life are irretrievably interlinked. Today’s world is unthinkable minus science and technology. As we have stepped into the twenty first century, all our functions, our work procedures, our scope of entertainment- even our very existence are all highly influenced by modern science and technology. As we celebrate this year’s scientific day, let us examine the modern life and the progress we made thanks to science and technology.

Ostensibly, science has been instrumental in the quantum leap in our development and has played pivotal role in giving us a comfortable life. If human creativity is one side of the coin responsible for what we are today, science has rendered a catalyst for change. The synergy has given our creativity a momentous spurt. As we gaze into the TV viewing a myriad of entertainment soaps or we surf on the internet getting a kaleidoscope of visual experience or we travel in a jet half way over the world we thank our scientists for making our life more meaningful. Whether it is medicine, communication, industry and architecture or entertainment, education, meteorology and environmental protection, scientific researches and studies have spread its helping tentacles and touched common man’s life. What he used to do in a month’s time can now be done with fluid efficiency in a matter of 24 hours or even less. Thus, we live much more than our counter parts a decade or century ago. I take this opportunity to discuss here, ten of the most important achievements in science.

Agriculture was perhaps one of the crucial endeavors that made revolutionary changes in our social system. Agriculture was the only area of scientific study for tens of thousands of years. Green Revolution, seed technology, genetics, White Revolution and innovation in farming practices have now led to the transformation of agriculture from a mere ‘country job’ into a sophisticated industry.

Electricity, when discovered, made a humble beginning, but eventually turned out to be the most significant of the discoveries. We just can’t figure out how our world would be without electric current. Our whole life is integrated around this mysterious force. Thomas Edison’s life was a continuum of scientific pursuits and he is by far one of the most successful scientists of yesteryears. The inventions of such stalwarts had a far reaching affect on the humanity. Electricity has now become an interface platform on which several branches of science depend.

As we sit here and discuss about the scientific advancement, people travel millions of kilometres going from one part of the world to another! Travel has become instantaneous as flights constantly move right across time barrier and sometimes we can reach yesterday when we start tomorrow! The crazy dream of Wright Brothers had magically produced supersonic jets a century later.

While aviation was a distant dream automobiles were a reality, but the cars and contraptions have become speedier, safer and profoundly efficient in today’s world. Today cars work on renewable energy, produce zero pollution and works for healthier tomorrow.

In medicine, Joseph Lister’s antiseptic surgery, Alexander Fleming’s accidental finding – the penicillin, John Salk’s polio vaccine and Rongton’s X-rays have all saved innumerable lives and got our future generations healthier.

Such a discussion wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Charles Babbage’s prodigy. From the Eniac that he created as purely a calculating machine to the modern pocket PCs the development in computers has envisaged a rapid and mind boggling advancement. In this field, unlike any other scientific field, the rapidity continues unabated. Every breath we take has a software innovation coinciding.

Holding a 4 inch by 2 inch mobile we talk, chat, brows the web, send and read emails and get ourselves entertained. We are getting ourselves seen and heard in far corners of the world. We enrol in universities, do transactions from virtual banks, engage in e- commerce and business, using web browsers. If you are an entrepreneur in the Bahamas getting suntanned, no problem – you could teleconference and run your empire by remote mechanism. All these thanks to inter-net and cell phones

Many detractors and critics of science blame science for the environmental cataclysm and us living on the brink of safety. To them I ask: did you travel today by bus? Did you wake up to the cool breeze of your ceiling fan? Did you switch off your lights before leaving home? When you have become so dependent on science how could you criticize it so thoughtlessly? Look at Western Europe. It is the model of safe living. Not long ago its cities were as polluted if not even more polluted than perhaps India or Philippines. Charles Dickens immortalized the black hand of industrialization. In the next 200 years or so, science itself found effective solution to redress the problem and subvert the situation. We cannot blame science for our irresponsible behaviour and inadequate planning. Eventually we have to go back to science to find a remedy to the problems caused by human error.

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