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Science and Technological progress in modern society Made by : Beisen Asylzat Natural science is the main characteristic feature distinguishing the present civilization from the other civilizations in the past. From its early beginnings in the sixteenth century, the developments of science have influenced the course of western civilization more and more until today it plays a most dominant role. Over the past 150 years the range of human knowledge has been doubled every twelve to fifteen years. In 1930 man knew four times as much as he did in 1900; by 1960 his knowledge had grown sixteen fold, and by the year 2000 it was a hundred times what it had been a century previously. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the notion of progress was closely linked with technological development, and that linkage intensified in the following decades. The automobile and the airplane changed not only travel but the nature of our cities and towns. Radio and then television brought more of the outside world into everyone ’s homes. Knowledge about the causes of diseases brought new treatments and preventive measures. Computers appeared, and soon the transistor made them smaller, more powerful, more accessible, and cheaper. The accumulation of scientific knowledge and new technologies has transformed human life. echnologies have helped provide many—though far from all—people with standards of warmth, cleanliness, nutrition, medical care, transportation, and entertainment far beyond those of even the wealthy two centuries ago. 1 They have also presented us with difficult questions about how to use science and technology most effectively to meet human needs. The rapid rate of material progress can continue, but it is not inevitable. The extent to which the products of science and technology are useful depends on the needs of society. Each of the four areas discussed in this chapter—industrial performance, health care, national security, and environmental protection—uses these products in different ways. Progress is more likely if we understand these differences. Only then can we effectively translate scientific and technical understanding into the techniques, tools, and insights that improve the quality of our lives.