Science Technology and Social Change Discussion

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A. Find an article that illustrates problems or successes in the diffusion of technology

Use this topic to share your “article” assignment. (Remember this can be a media news item, as long as you give us the exact source.) Tell us:

1. Name and source of the article
2. Focus or point of the article
3. Your evaluation of the article

B. What are some of the reasons (other than economic) that a country or culture might reject a technology? Have you had direct experience of this?

THE FLOW OF TECHNOLOGYYour text describes the flow of technology, and specifically how the country that originates a technology is not necessarily the one that profits most or uses it most. Many factors contribute to the efficient flow within a country — examples are the general economic condition, the willingness of people to adapt to change, and supporting resources for the technology. The US railroad example in the text is a good illustration: the fast pace that was necessary to cover vast expanses of land introduced sharp curves around mountains; this made changes in locomotive design necessary, as well as faster development of the railroad stations, and other support services.Reading this chapter, we might be led to believe that China was number one in technology in 1500, with its gunpowder, paper, and compass. No “explanation” is provided for why, five centuries later, China is “behind” technologically. While no exact answer can be given, it’s useful to look for possible correlations and comparisons with other historical patterns. Could it be that China did not and does not want to be part of the flow of increasing technological advance? In a later lesson (Session 9) we’ll see that differences in philosophy between the East and the West might account for these cultural choices. OR, perhaps you don’t agree with this assessment?For another historical parallel, look again at the Copernican Revolution. The new technology of the telescope was rejected by much of Europe, since it showed things that did not match current beliefs. The most vehement opposition to the new paradigm and to the technology that supported it was the Catholic Church, the great center of learning at the time. The opposition came from an unwillingness to change a traditional pattern of belief — that man was the center of the universe. No amount of scientific or technological evidence could sway people from that stance. People of science lost their lives — burned as heretics for adopting the new thinking and trusting the new technology.TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER”Technology transfer” refers to the process by which “research” is transferred to the commercial sector. As your text points out, no new technology is a “sure thing,” and businesses must ask hard questions before committing to “reduction to practice.” The usual business factors such as profitability, marketability, and regulatory restrictions come into play, plus the factors that are particular to technology as described above. New fashions in dress are more easily “sold” than new fashions in technology. THE THRILL OF X RAYSWe’ve seen cases where a new technology is resisted – at the opposite end of the adaptive spectrum are technologies that receive wide acceptance before the ramifications are understood.X rays are a good example of this. When first discovered (by William Roentgen, 1845-1923) x rays were often a source of entertainment — people at sideshows were x-rayed in public, providing a thrilling amusement!     Mrs. Roentgen was often the subject of the x rays; a famous x ray of her hand can be seen here at left.Some of us are old enough to remember x ray machines in shoe stores — customers would step up onto a console and look through a viewer at an x ray of their feet. They’d be able to tell if the shoe fit properly — children especially would love to “play” at this machine.Marie Curie (1867-1934) was a pioneer in research in radioactivity, coining the word itself.  

All eyes on the Nobel Prizes for science next week. Here’s what to expect – CNN

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