July 27, 2010
Before I answer that I would like to take some precaution and quell any doubt in anyone’s mind that there is a very unique connection between Science and Technology, apart from the immensely complex nature of Science and the gigantic complexity of Technology, there are a few basic perceptions that I had tried to pen down in an earlier blog. [See “What is Science?”, 20 march 2009]
From an academic point of view or rather a puritan’s pristine view of science, technology is often seen out of the precinct of science because of how technology caters to the immediate needs of a consumer society and how science is often badly understood by even a consumer community that is educated and supports its day to day chores via the ever changing technology inventions.
To quote the famed theoretical physicist Julian Schwinger “Like the silicon chips of more recent years, the Feynman diagram was bringing computation to the masses.” This could be a statement that characterizes another facet of science-technology relationship.
The silicon chips, the computation and the direct linkage of its usability to the consumer community are comparable to the “science in action” of the time. This only surmises the fact that science in the hands of its most masterful architects resembles technology itself, in its output.
Technology can be denied, science can not be denied because it’s always in the making and only in an outstanding or remarkable scenario where a genius like Feynman is concerned science in making can give a quicker lead to technology in use.
Apart from that abstract understanding, to make myself avoid the pain of being incorrect, Feynman was a great Scientist and not necessarily took part in active technology-fication at-least in his days of scientific inventions. Later when his ideas became widely acceptable and usable did he have the opportunity and option to venture into his technology dreams. I can still be wrong and in my mild defense I am not a historian.
So now I have given enough of perspective to link science and technology in a way that does confirm to widely believed notions. I can safely start to relieve my thoughts on the demise of science that is to be or not to be in the event of a failure of technology.
Before that what would it mean to say technology has failed? Because with every need the necessity mother bears an invention child. Well sometimes the child birth can be delayed inadvertently and sometimes the child is of no use for a particular purpose, the child can be too autistic, to procrastinate on my analogies. [Despite of its own beauty, to be appreciated]
To surmise this by an example, you are in Alaska and for whatever reason, say, too strong an aura interfering with the electro-magnetic communication system of your communication device no matter how advance it is, you are out of communication with the rest of the world. You are in a group of ten, all folks the best in their expertise domain, technology, science, computing, mobile communication, you name it. But you can’t fix the problem.
That is by definition a technology failure, because in hindsight you could not have resorted to any kind of technology invented so far that would come to your use. You are transmitting all useful data over to a remote site that is processing these important events and suddenly a “blackout”.
Well if you are smart you note, “No, this is not demise because we can always store the data offline, take it back with ourselves and re-use it”. But “what-if!” we need to, for some unspecified purpose; transmit data on-the-line as we receive it, for some cross-check of an event at a remote site that needs to be done as soon as we have it? We are in trouble; the smart fellow can say, well we are handicapped, not demised. How handicapped do we need to be to feel demised? That’s another route I must take in to to make sense.
So technology can handicap science. There is an inherent traditionalism or say conservatism about technology. Without this conservatism technology can’t be effective, its marketability will be swallowing and its gregariousness can be questioned to the extent of science itself. [How friendly is science??]
The gregariousness of science is often questioned because of the lack of an air of conservatism in it. Famous scientists were greatly accepted only when they showed their conservative sides. They were greatly celebrated only after they showed their religious side and to some degree the accommodation of the central figure in religions, God.
They struggled throughout their life in dealing with their own notion of God and adhered to a silent “E pur se muove” [it still moves]. They did not become a tyrant to their own belief they just showed a great deal of restraint in accommodating the world’s belief, lest they suffer a Maxwellian suicide.
[or Boltzman was that? You see there is an inherent danger to the way coupled or three-some scientists can face in how they are perceived. Its Maxwell that was depressed or Boltzman? Even if you know the right answer if you are aware of Maxwell-Boltzman association for example the M-B statistics, there is a chance you may be confused, like I am]
While science is often, as I said earlier in this article, “always in the making” Technology, to be usable by the mass, the scientific community included, is well prepared, at-least functionally. The other facets or other loose-ends are filled by marketability, social or consumer needs and so on.
This well-preparedness in itself is a diversion from the “making of science” and therefore takes us away from the goals of science. But despite of the diversions the usefulness of technology lie in the fact that it enhances efficiency, facilitates communication, makes science attractive to the lesser concerned about the beauty of science, makes science as prepared as technology, although that signifies an incomplete output.
But science will always be incomplete notwithstanding the hypes of the like of unification or theory of everything. The latter has to be defined to a precinct of confined meaning or else their conclusion will be illusive and as incomplete as their predecessors if not more.
The preparedness and completeness of technology is a cursory knowledge in that direction. The reasoning is: when science depends so much on technology and technology is forthright only when its well prepared, complete and conservative [meaning fulfilling the needs of the consumers] and while science is riddled with open ends, questions, incompleteness, doubts, uncertainties about its own character and future, and they both depend on each other how can we predict our universe with a theory of everything and unification unless they have a conservative meaning itself?? [Conservative: well defined, specified and limited in its scope]
While Technology makes a brilliant case for science it warns us about or forestalls the unlimitedness of science itself. Science is an ideal human goal, tremendously successful. So is technology itself. But technology respects the bounds of human limit. Science has to be seen in that prospect.