Technology - Science, Engineering and Technology

Science, Engineering and Technology

The distinction between science, engineering and technology is not always clear. Science is the reasoned investigation or study of phenomena, aimed at discovering enduring principles among elements of the phenomenal world by employing formal techniques such as the scientific method. Technologies are not usually exclusively products of science, because they have to satisfy requirements such as utility, usability and safety.

Engineering is the goal-oriented process of designing and making tools and systems to exploit natural phenomena for practical human means, often (but not always) using results and techniques from science. The development of technology may draw upon many fields of knowledge, including scientific, engineering, mathematical, linguistic, and historical knowledge, to achieve some practical result.

Technology is often a consequence of science and engineering — although technology as a human activity precedes the two fields. For example, science might study the flow of electrons in electrical conductors, by using already-existing tools and knowledge. This new-found knowledge may then be used by engineers to create new tools and machines, such as semiconductors, computers, and other forms of advanced technology. In this sense, scientists and engineers may both be considered technologists; the three fields are often considered as one for the purposes of research and reference.

The exact relations between science and technology in particular have been debated by scientists, historians, and policymakers in the late 20th century, in part because the debate can inform the funding of basic and applied science. In the immediate wake of World War II, for example, in the United States it was widely considered that technology was simply "applied science" and that to fund basic science was to reap technological results in due time. An articulation of this philosophy could be found explicitly in Vannevar Bush's treatise on postwar science policy, Science—The Endless Frontier: "New products, new industries, and more jobs require continuous additions to knowledge of the laws of nature... This essential new knowledge can be obtained only through basic scientific research." In the late-1960s, however, this view came under direct attack, leading towards initiatives to fund science for specific tasks (initiatives resisted by the scientific community). The issue remains contentious—though most analysts resist the model that technology simply is a result of scientific research.

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Famous quotes containing the words technology and/or engineering:

    Radio put technology into storytelling and made it sick. TV killed it. Then you were locked into somebody else’s sighting of that story. You no longer had the benefit of making that picture for yourself, using your imagination. Storytelling brings back that humanness that we have lost with TV. You talk to children and they don’t hear you. They are television addicts. Mamas bring them home from the hospital and drag them up in front of the set and the great stare-out begins.
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    Mining today is an affair of mathematics, of finance, of the latest in engineering skill. Cautious men behind polished desks in San Francisco figure out in advance the amount of metal to a cubic yard, the number of yards washed a day, the cost of each operation. They have no need of grubstakes.
    Merle Colby, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)