Society, science and technology
2. Basic concepts
This section explains:
Basic features of science:
Ideals of science: scepticism, communication, reproducibility
|general => special||special => general|
Often used iteratively:
... => general
general => special=> ...
Standard model of science
Scientific method: systematic approach to problem solving
T.A.Easton, Handout on the Scientific Method, http://www2.thomas.edu/faculty/easton/SC201/handout.htm
Necessity of control
Observation and experiment in social and life sciences
Role of observation and experiment in social and life sciences differs from that in natural and technical sciences. From ethical, moral and economic reasons it is often impossible to repeat some observations, many experiments cannot be performed at all. In many cases the only available observations are historical data, which are not reproducible. From these reasons, in these sciences we often use so called quasi-experiments, which are not under complete control of the researcher and which cannot be (due to their small number) processed statistically. The personality and individual judgment of the researcher play much more important role and many social laws have only qualitative character.
Science and common sense
Paradoxes - http://www.paradoxes.co.uk/
Zenon paradoxes (approx. 460 B.C.) - http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/paradox-zeno/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno%27s_paradoxes
- impossible triangle
Science as a knowledge and technique as an art naturally are not the same. Until industrial revolution they belonged to distinct worlds, classes and cultures. Only in the 19-th century the industry intentionally started to exploit science as a resource.
Terms technique and technology appear in the 18-th century. Before that, „technique“ was understood as a skill, an art. Industrial revolution necessitated distinction between art and technique. The art originates in individual abilities that resist systemization and reproducibility (tacit knowledge). On the other hand, techniques are rooted in formalized and transferable knowledge (explicit knowledge). The development of the language in the 18-th century therefore reflects basic economical changes. Similarly, the distinction between technique and technology, related to scientific understanding of technical development, reflects the second industrial revolution of the 20-th century.
Technology can be defined as a process that, based on explicit or implicitt phase of research and development (through application of scientific knowledge) makes possible commercial production of goods and/or services.
|Problem to be solved||Branches of science||Techniques available||Technology|
|Energy production with lower dependency on oil imports|| Nuclear physics
|Transformation of heat to electric power||Nuclear power|
|Regulation of braking system according to adhesion of tyres to the road surface|| Hydrodynamics
Stress and strength
| Conventional braking
Data analysis using microprocessors
Data transfer from sensors
|Immediate positive picture without processing in the laboratory|| Optics
Separation of substances
R&D needn't be performed by the company using its results. The relevant skills can be bought, licensed, or sold. When looking for competitive advantage, the company can combine its own technologies with those acquired from external partners.
Process of technical creativity: original combination of technical processes and ideas, requiring creation of new ideas, their combination and high motivation.
Creative process results in creation of something new - a discovery. The discovery can be protected.
Basic steps of creative process:
Problem that cannot be solved in one historical period can be often solved later on, as new knowledge accumulates, new instruments, materials, etc. are developed. (example: J. Watt and steam engine)
Main information resources: individual, collective and society knowledge
Evaluation of collected information and knowledge:
Use analogies, contrasts. Logic is not sufficient, use phantasy (however, carefully check the results)
convergent and divergent thinking (TRIZ / brainstorming]
Figure 2.1: S-curve for technology adoption
See examples in: Ausubel J.H., Technical Progress and Climatic Change, http://phe.rockefeller.edu/tech_prog
Adapted from: Maynard H.B., Mehrtens S.E.: The Fourth Wave
Table 6: Features of Corporate Structure
Table 8: Characteristics of the corporate community
Table 11: Business and the environment
Table 13: Business's attitudes towards technology
Table 18: Characteristics of the Second, Third and Fourth Wave corporations - part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Topics for discussion
McClellan J.E., Dorn H.: Science and Technology in World History, The John Hopkins University Press.,1999
Mokyr J.: The Lever of Riches, Oxford University Press, 1990
Maynard H.B., Mehrtens S.E.: The Fourth Wave, Berret-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, 1993
History of Science, History of Technology, in: Encyclopaedia Britannica - Macropaedia
|Created by: Jiri Vacek||
Last change: Sep 1, 2010