The Impact Of Society On Science Essay

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The Impact Of Society On Science Essay, Research Paper In the grim days of the Cold War, with the threat of global nuclear war hanging over us, who could have imagined that Communism would undergo a total collapse, that the Soviet Union would disintegrate, and that Russia would rapidly become a poor country controlled by gangsters. Our world now has an immediacy of contact never experienced before. Technology has brought all of humanity together, and nearly everything can be watched live–war in the Middle East, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, and people dying of starvation and disease in Africa. Whereas it once took days or weeks for news to travel and a year for an influenza epidemic to spread, news can now be transmitted instantaneously and a new virus can spread all over the

world in 24 hours. All around there is evidence of the impact of science on society. This is so obvious and so well known that little more remains to be said about it. Science and the technologies it has spawned form the basis of all human activity, from the houses that we live in, the food that we eat, the cars that we drive, to the electronic gadgetry in almost every home that we use to remain informed and entertained. Yet, despite these technological innovations, there are many paradoxes that still exist: In advanced societies an increasing proportion of national wealth is now spent on health and recreation and large sums of money are devoted to military enterprises, while in the underdeveloped world famine and pointless wars still claim a terrible toll of human lives,

malnutrition and disease are still rife, and even the basic necessities of life such as food and shelter cannot be provided for all. There is no doubt that great advances could be made in the treatment of malaria and other parasitic diseases that afflict more than half of the world’s population, but the people who have these diseases also have another called money deficiency disease. There are many problems that science and technology, by themselves, are unable to solve given the economic structure of the world that we live in. So when we speak of the impact of science on society we are speaking about the more advanced countries, and when we speculate on the future, it usually concerns the same areas of the world. Following the advent of molecular biology came the technologies

and their applications. For many years it was widely held that molecular biology was a completely useless subject, a “fundamental” science of no interest to those working on practical matters. Then suddenly it came to be viewed as dangerous, and genetic engineering was considered an almost Satanic activity. Biological scientists became suspect and trust in this science diminished, as fantastical scenarios were played out to an increasingly terrified public. Our times are characterized by a view that we can accomplish everything in this generation, especially if we can find and apply the right technology. The fixation on technology gives us a slanted view of human existence. For example, immortality may be a futile notion, yet some believe that through the use of high

technology it might nevertheless be brought off. The history of the last 25 years teaches us the profound lesson that it is necessary for scientists to communicate to society at large not only the content, use, and misuse of scientific discoveries, but also what their work tells us about the intrinsic limitations of our bodies and minds. This is not an easy task, especially in a science whose content becomes more complicated every day. I do not know whether I want to speculate on what impact science will have on society in the next 150 years. Scientists wish they could say that we will banish hunger and war, and they also wish that they could reassure us that we will still have a planet to live on. As everybody knows, this does not depend on science alone but on economic forces