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The advancements in technology and science and their use in literary works

It is likely that the reader will find in my discussion characteristics that apply to many developed countries and developing ones. Inasmuch as scientific progress is highly dependent on financial support and, in modern times, on general societal support, it is appropriate to discuss the interaction of science and society.

Using the United States as an example, some of the topics to be discussed are the views of public officials who influence the distribution of research funds, the response of funding agencies and the views of scientists.

Finally, we shall look at the co-evolution of science and society and attempt to draw some conclusions concerning their related future and the implications for the future of technology.

Views of public officials Public officials who are involved in setting or influencing science policy have expressed opinions that indicate that they intend to change the basis for supporting research and development. In other words, the public officials wish to alter somewhat the pattern of funding for science.

Their motivation is to orient research more toward programs that, for example, ensure a stronger economy and improvements in the environment. It is becoming increasingly apparent that those public officials who control public funds, will be reluctant to fund research programs that they consider unrelated to national needs. An example of priority-setting by public officials was the vote in the House of Representatives against further construction of the high energy accelerator known as the superconducting super collider.

This shift in spending priorities implies that nuclear physics may receive less support in the future if it continues to be viewed as less related to the new national priorities than other scientific disciplines. Views of funding agencies The effect of the intention of federal officials to shift public research funds toward research programs that serve the national priorities has already affected the nature of the funding available at the funding agencies.

For example, at the National Science Foundation, a small increase in funding for the chemistry division is directed toward so-called strategic research initiatives that involve, for example, advanced materials and processing, biotechnology, environmental chemistry and high-performance computing. It is likely that this trend will continue.

The Federal Coordinating Council on Science, Engineering and Technology identified the current national priority areas as high-performance computing, advanced materials, manufacturing research and education, biotechnology and global change. The expressed intention is to get more effort into those areas, but not to have them be entirely exclusive.

The questions concerned many aspects of the support of science, such as, is the paradigm really new, who decides which areas are strategic and who sets the priorities, and are the important contributions of curiosity-driven basic research to be largely sacrificed. The indications so far are quite clear that the government expects to shift publicly funded research activity into the areas that are deemed strategic.

Is this a new paradigm or merely a shift in emphasis?

When science fiction inspires real technology

Quite apparently there has been over the years heavy funding and much research in the strategic priority areas. There also has been in the United States, a major Industry-University cooperative research program conducted by the National Science Foundation.

It celebrated its 20th year of operation in January, 1994. An account of this very successful and extensive program has been presented in the January 24, 1994 issue of Chemical and Engineering News published by the American Chemical Society. The motivation of this cooperative program is to develop and transfer industrially relevant technologies from the university into practice. A table in the article lists 55 research topics covering a broad array of technologies.

There are also many other industry-university collaborations that are not part of the National Science Foundation program.

Introduction

Performing research in the interest of national needs is not new. Cooperating with industry is not new. Setting priorities is not new.

What could be new? It is indicated that what is new is that by control of public funds curiosity driven research is to be curtailed to some unspecified degree in favor of research perceived to be in the national interest.

This, I believe is the source of the apprehension among scientists. The major developments in science and technology generally derive from curiosity driven research and these developments have had over time great impact on the national interest, enriching the country with whole new industries and making contributions to the health, welfare, comfort and security of society.

Is curtailing curiosity driven research in the national interest? The impact of curiosity driven basic research Many scientific groups have produced literature that describes, in terms of many examples, how curiosity driven research has led to important developments in the interest of society.

The October, 1993 issue of Physics Today celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of the journal, Physical Review. A major part of this issue was devoted to the matter of basic research.

An article by Robert K. Adair and Ernest M. Such research is the seed corn of the technological harvest that sustains modern society. But the examples given in this booklet show that progress is often made in a different way.

Like the princes of Serendip, researchers often find different, sometimes greater, riches than the ones they are seeking. For example, the tetrafluoroethylene cylinder that gave rise to Teflon was meant to be used in the preparation of new refrigerants.

The investigators were interested in some natural phenomenon, sometimes evident, sometimes conjectured, sometimes predicted by theory. Development of gene splicing by Cohen and Boyer produced, among other products, better insulin. All of these discoveries are detailed in this booklet Science and Serendipity. In other words, without continuing fundamental research, the opportunities for the advancements in technology and science and their use in literary works technology are eventually going to shrink.

There are, in fact, countless such examples. Concerns also have been raised that science is being practiced for its own sake, and that it would be better for the nation if research were oriented more toward specific industrial applications. Indeed, a majority of scientists are intimately involved in the study and treatment of common human diseases and collaborate closely with clinical scientists. Industries involved in biomedical development have been remarkably efficient in commercial application of treatment modalities based on discoveries resulting from fundamental research funded primarily by the federal government.

It is essential to provide adequate federal support for a broad base of fundamental research, rather than shifting to a major emphasis on directed research, because the paths to success are unpredictable and subject to rapid change. Although its primary aim is to fill the gaps in our understanding of how life processes work, basic research has borne enormous fruit in terms of its practical applications.

We recognize that during a time when resources are constrained, it may be tempting to direct funding to projects that appear likely to provide early practical returns, but we emphasize that support for a wide-ranging portfolio of untargeted research has proven to be the better investment.

Ten Inventions Inspired by Science Fiction

This provides the broader base of knowledge from which all new medical applications arise. Decisions regarding what research to fund must be based on informed judgments about which projects represent the most meritorious ideas. Technologies derived from basic research have saved millions of lives and billions of dollars in health care costs.

The significance of these basic research-derived developments, however, transcends the lowering of medical costs: Although there is also some support by private institutions established for that purpose and also some industrial investment in generally product-oriented basic research, the greatest amount of support by far comes from public funds. One of the ways that the public is repaid for their support is through the technology that fundamental research generates. I suspect that the economic return from technology alone more than compensates for the monies expended for the entire basic research effort.

I have no estimate, however, of whether my suspicion is true or not.

Technology in science fiction

It should be noted that the public gains much more than the economic value of technology. It gains culture, comfort, convenience, security, recreation, health and the extension of life.

  • The investigators were interested in some natural phenomenon, sometimes evident, sometimes conjectured, sometimes predicted by theory;
  • Mythology and folklore precursors[ edit ] Many myths and legends include gods , spirits , angels , and demons that are often invisible or can choose to become invisible at will;
  • Views of public officials Public officials who are involved in setting or influencing science policy have expressed opinions that indicate that they intend to change the basis for supporting research and development;
  • If the outcome in the research community is a more vivid awareness of how much the world at large looks to research for its improvement, so much the better.

What monetary value can be put on the triumphs of health over debilitating or fatal disease? The monetary value has to be higher than the purely economic savings that were noted above in the 26 examples referred to in the FASEB Bulletin. Technology has been, in fact, closely associated with the evolution of man starting with tools, clothing, fire, shelter and various other basic survival items.

The co-evolution persists and, since basic science is now very much a part of developing technologies, the term co-evolution of science and society which is used at times very much implies the co-evolution of both basic science and industrial science with society.

An important question arises concerning how basic scientific discoveries eventually lead to new technologies and what that may mean to the rational support of basic research and the future of science and technology in the developed and developing world.

There are great uncertainties in the process that starts with basic research and ends with an economically successful technology. The successful discovery of a new development in research that appears to have technological significance does not ensure the advancements in technology and science and their use in literary works economic success of technologies that may be based on it.

He notes that uncertainties derive from many sources, for example, failure to appreciate the extent to which a market may expand from future improvement of the technology, the fact that technologies arise with characteristics that are not immediately appreciated, and failure to comprehend the significance of improvements in complementary inventions, that is inventions that enhance the potential of the original technology.

Rosenberg also points out that many new technological regimes take many years before they replace an established technology and that technological revolutions are never completed overnight.

They require a long gestation period. Initially it is very difficult to conceptualize the nature of entirely new systems that develop by evolving over time. New technologies need to pass an economic test, not just a technological one.

The burden of much of what I said is that we frequently simply do not know what new findings may turn out to be relevant, or to what particular realm of human activity that relevance may eventually apply. Indeed, I have been staking the broad claim that a pervasive uncertainty characterizes, not just basic research, where it is generally acknowledged, but the realm of product design and new product development as well — i.

Consequently, early precommitment to any specific, large-scale technology project, as opposed to a more limited, sequential decision-making approach, is likely to be hazardous — i.

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Evidence for this assertion abounds in such fields as weapons procurement, the space program, research on the development of an artificial heart, and synthetic fuels.

Rather, it would seem to make a great deal of sense to manage a deliberately diversified research portfolio, a portfolio that will illuminate a range of alternatives in the event of a reordering of social or economic priorities. Rather, the criticism is aimed at the single-mindedness of the focus on nuclear power that led to a comparative neglect of many other alternatives, including not only alternative energy sources but improvements in the efficiency of energy utilization. These areas are not well covered by corporate investment, yet are vital to the long-term economic strength of the country.

Having pinned its reorganization of research on the doctrine of science for wealth-creation, the government appears now to be more conscious of the problems it has undertaken to solve. After more than a decade of needless damage-doing, that would be only prudent. If the outcome in the research community is a more vivid awareness of how much the world at large looks to research for its improvement, so much the better.

As a consequence of recognizing the economic benefits that derive from the development of novel, successful technologies, governments have been attempting to direct research, supported with public funds, toward subjects that are perceived as national priorities.

The views of scientists, a distinguished economist, some industrial leaders and an editorial comment in a distinguished science journal provide very strong indications that governmental management of goal-oriented research is replete with uncertainties and pitfalls and, although well-motivated, may cause serious damage to the scientific culture.

This, of course, would defeat the original purpose, since the co-evolution of science and society is a very-well documented and irrefutable phenomenon. Strong arguments are presented in this article by individuals and groups that support the current system of governmental funding of a very broad range of scientific efforts as probably being as close to optimal with regard to national priorities as is possible. No one can predict with any certainty what the most successful inventions and technologies will be in the future.

The economic return the advancements in technology and science and their use in literary works federally supported funding was the subject of a report by the Council of Economic Advisors to President Clinton.

This report was released in November 1995. It documents high returns to the economy and the importance of governmental involvement. By any measure, basic scientific research has made monumental contributions to technology and national priorities. The bond between basic research and the development of both novel and current technologies has been and is well in place.

There is no question that science and society will continue to co-evolve. The nature of this evolution will certainly be affected by the extent to which governments set funding priorities. Societies whose governments recognize the dependence of the development of successful novel technologies on broadly supported basic research are more likely to be healthier and economically prosperous in the future than those that do not.

The role of science and technology in future design

Because of the unpredictability of the details of the new science and technology that will evolve, the details of social evolution are also unpredictable.