Science versus technology

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by timojin, Aug 31, 2016.

  1. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,624
    Yes, and we spent billions on discovering a (family?) boson, but much as I am astounded at the theoretical prediction of such an event, can anyone enlighten me how this knowledge can be used in the applied sciences.
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,624
    Lemurs can (sub)consciously count (recognize more or less quantity) as fast as humans.
    http://www.mytestdomain.dk/group-one/lemurs-can-count/
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    21,225
    It's early days yet...perhaps a QGT? reasonable confirmation of the standard model....much more I imagine
    It's a discovery and as such certainly beneficial.
     
    Write4U likes this.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,298
    When the approximate or simple methods are not good enough for the job in hand. For example, we use Newtonian mechanics most of the time, but relativity or QM when Newton breaks down significantly.
     
    Write4U likes this.
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,633
    I think that science and technology borrow from each other.

    First, some definitions are in order. I'll define 'science' as a search for the basic fundamental principles seemingly underlying the physical world and its behavior. (In physics, they seem to typically be mathematical relationships between various quantities.) And I'll define 'technology'as putting our understanding of those physical principles to use for practical ends.

    So technology obviously borrows from science, since that's how I'm defining it.

    But I think that science does borrow from technology in a less obvious way than its obvious use of experimental apparatus and observational and measurement instruments.

    The idea I'm trying to express is that science is that our scientific understanding is a conceptual model of how we believe nature behaves. It's a simplification of something that typically going to be much more complex in real world situations.

    So when the engineers try to put physical principles to use designing a machine or something, they often encounter unexpected and unforeseen complications. An airplane wing might experience flutter. A robot might not behave as expected. The problem then is to figure out why that is happening.

    I think that science can learn something from observing how nature behaves outside highly controlled (and highly artificial) laboratory situations.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
    Write4U and ajanta like this.
  9. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,855
    I suppose I am. At least, he's doing the first step. But he doesn't seem capable of completing the cycle.
     
  10. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,298
    Agree with most of this, certainly. However I think is is not right to imagine that science is in any way surprised by the complexity of real-life situations. Your point that science very often relies on simplification of a complex natural situation is a key one. It is precisely this simplification that enables the common patterns to be discerned and thus for useful generalisations to be made from particular instances. But that does not mean the scientist is so naive as to think reality is as simple as his simplified model.

    Very often, in fact, the excitement comes from studying the deviations from the simple model and understanding how and why they arise. I still recall the excitement I felt at university when a molecule was introduced to us that broke the normal rules of bonding. (The norbornyl cation sticks in the memory as one example, boron compounds as another.)

    But of course you are right that the technologist applies the principles of science with caution and with wrap-round-the-arm, just because the simplified model may not account for everything that the technology has to cope with in real life. Thus we have wind tunnels, test flights, drug trials and so forth.
     
    Boris2 and ajanta like this.
  11. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,652
    Lasers were invented before there was an applied use for them.
    Now, you can't swing a cat without hitting a device with a laser in it.
     
  12. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,305
    What about the earliest human technologies? We focused on stone tools for quite a while. Eventually we figured out that we could join bits of rock to bits of wood, and made a club or an axe.

    What kind of science was involved in the development of more complex tools and weapons?
     
  13. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,633
    I think that trial-and-error craft industries certainly proceeded science per-se, where science is the discovery of a set of deeper principles believed to underlie physical events. (I'm thinking of science in terms of cosmological arrangements, laws of physics, chemical compositions, biochemistry or whatever.) People just knew if they did this or that, something useful resulted, so they passed that technological craft-lore down from generation to generation. After the neolithic revolution they would plant seeds to grow their crops, but almost certainly didn't have any real biological understanding of seeds. If they had any theories about why their techniques worked, those theories were almost certainly mistaken by our lights.

    People in Chalcolithic times knew that if they heated certain kinds of rocks, metallic copper could be extracted. But they didn't have any idea what copper was. The theoretical idea gradually took hold in ancient times that metals grew from seeds inside the earth and if the right conditions prevailed, would grow into more and more exalted forms. That belief survived down to early modern times (when alchemists were trying to grow gold). For many centuries, metallurgy was associated with magic. The transition from the bronze-age to the iron-age involved a great eruption of metallurgical magic. The first iron used by metallurgists was obtained from meteorites. It was believed that metallurgists could foretell the future by peering into their hellish concoctions. The smiths' hammer became a potent symbol of wizardry. But despite the (to-us) weird theories that these people had about what they were doing, trial-and-error development of furnaces, casting, alloying and mining continued.

    Paleolithic spear-throwers seem to suggest some awareness of leverage. Binding a hand-axe to a wooden handle suggests the same. They probably always knew that power was associated with the size of a hunter's arm, and tools like these effectively lengthened the arm. I doubt if they had any idea of any more abstract mathematical physical principles associated with it.

    Bows and arrows, which may have appeared late in paleolithic times, involve exploitation of fairly sophisticated physical principles. But historians of science question how much knowledge of the underlying principles these people really had and how much was just trial-and-error craft-lore concerning techniques.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
  14. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,305
    I agree with this, mostly. What drove our stone-crafting industries? We aren't too sure about what the early stone tools were used for, but they most likely were for hunting or scavenging. Our use of tools was driven by our ability to diversify our diet, and to migrate much further than other animals because of that.

    You could argue that the first appearance of spears, stone clubs and axes was driven by the same principle, so we didn't need to advance the technology until, um, we needed to. That's what I think of as the principle of evolutionary parsimony--we developed tool use as it became necessary and not before. The development of science looks like it was driven by the development of invention and technologies. We didn't develop a theory of binding pieces of wood to pieces of shaped stone, we developed better tools because they were advantageous to a species that has a strategy of dietary diversification.
     
  15. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    24,102
    Not necessarily, of course. But we very often see scientists grossly underestimating the complexity of the unknown, the stuff left out of their model - same as anyone else. Scientists have no advantage over anyone else in this regard - even their presumably higher than average intelligence is often of little help, as it often acts to provide false confidence and prevent recognition of the situation they are in.

    Examples are legion. Here's one: https://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/6125 The description might now be assumed to be describing a full scale research program for years to come, but at the time it actually meant what it said: visual object recognition and naming by a robot equipped with a camera and hooked up to a 1966 computer was assigned to a few students ("summer help") at MIT as a one summer's project - software, hardware, the whole shot.

    We have hints of a somewhat different, complicating factor http://galileo.phys.virginia.edu/~rec_ak/Lab_Safety_Site/rubberband.jpg
    that may have been very important - in many cultures, early stages of what we now recognize to be entire fields of technological advance exist only as toys, playthings and/or recreational gizmos, maybe musical instruments or decorative curios or the like. The Inca invented the wheel and axle combination, for example, but had no known adult use for it - they made wheeled toys for children. The Chinese invented gunpowder, and used it for fireworks. Would anyone be surprised to discover that the forerunners of the axlatl and similar devices elsewhere were sticks used by children to throw mudballs and crabapples and the like at each other?

    The way it seems to work is: some people like to fool with stuff, and they figure things out that later - when necessity comes along - suggest possibilities that otherwise would not have occurred to anyone. That suggestive effect depends on a degree of abstraction - some development of what amounts to theory.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
  16. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,298
    While I have no wish to dispute that scientists can be overoptimistic or naive, just like all of us, I have to point out that the example you give is of technology (robotics), not science!
     
  17. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,624
    Think of rocketry and space travel using gravitational sling-shot science . That's not technology, that is knowledge and calculus of gravitational forces and optimum coordinate points of spacetime in taking advantage of this natural mathematically dynamic mechanism, gravity, and no do overs .

    The science needs to be rigorous at every step of the way before it even could be modeled and the necessary technologies required , long before fabrication, maybe for a one way trip.....someday.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
  18. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,624
    But this seems to be a fundamental law:
    "In logic, necessity and sufficiency are implicational relationships between statements. The assertion that one statement is a necessary and sufficient condition of another means that the former statement is true if and only if the latter is true. That is, the two statements must be either simultaneously true or simultaneously false."
    Necessity and sufficiency - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  19. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,298
    What is the relevance of that to this thread, please?
     
  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    24,102
    No, actually: the naivety and ignorance were of basic science, and characterized the cutting edge, fundamental, highest level scientific researchers in the field. They did not know how complex visual object recognition was in reality, how it was done by the brains that did it, or what it would take in theory to accomplish such a task. If they had known this basic stuff, they would never have expected to be able to adapt or develop the technology so easily.

    Compare the top level scientists engaged in developing the nuclear bomb - using chunks of plutonium as doorstops and curios for visitors to hold in their hands, dreaming of using nuclear explosions to dig transcontinental subway tunnels. They had very sophisticated technological expertise ready to hand - more than they needed, to dig subway tunnels. Or the current naivety-afflicted researchers in genetic modification - it's the basic science they lack, not the technology, however important the technology.
     
  21. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,624
    It was in context of the question;
    Any compplex project has certain scientific requirements, which must be filled adequately (sufficiently), by the technology. A multi-billion space-craft blew up because of a frigging o-ring, which had not been properly retested after use.
    Some projects, such as spaceflight require more or more exacting science in planning and building an interstellar soacecraft than building a toy rocket for children.

    If the science required is correct and the applied technology is sufficient to execute the scientific requirements then we have satisfied the law of necessity and sufficiency.

    Fracking is an example of technology not being sufficient to satisfy the science. That's why people can light flames in the water coming out of their water taps. That's why some states have restricted fracking in specific places. The technology is not on par to the scientific requirements. That's why the Halliburton exemption was passed to begin with. Economic shortcuts to get rid of highly toxic waste materials by using it to create enormous upward pressures into the aquifers.

    IMO, this is pertinent in context of the OP question.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
  22. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,298
    Ah. So no relevance, then.
     
  23. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    24,102
    It's science that allows one to predict the consequences of developing and employing the technology. Technological expertise will not suffice.
     

Share This Page