Golden Nugget : As We May Think

“The applications of science have built man a well-supplied house, and are teaching him to live healthily therein. They have enabled him to throw masses of people against one another with cruel weapons. They may yet allow him truly to encompass the great record and to grow in the wisdom of race experience. He may perish in conflict before he learns to wield that record for his true good. Yet, in the application of science to the needs and desires of man, it would seem to be a singularly unfortunate stage at which to terminate the process, or to lose hope as to the outcome” — Vannevar Bush

 

I am going to try to keep my response and analysis specifically focused on this paragraph, because my thoughts seemed to get terribly muddled in the grand scheme of the article.  It is the first sentence that struck me in Bush’s closing paragraph, particularly “The applications of science have built man a well-supplied house.”  I don’t think science has done anything of the sort.  Science is a tool that man uses, so any house that has been built for man has been built by man.  The thought that kept popping up while I read this article was that I feel that man creates the science as it is needed.  The reason the pharaoh wasn’t building cars around Egypt wasn’t because it wasn’t economically efficient, it’s because no one’s brain was focused on solving that problem because that problem didn’t exist. New technology brings new problems, which brings on even more new technology.  Because of this I don’t think we will ever stop creating, our science won’t perish.  If only because we keep creating new expectations and with those expectations, new problems.  From that we will always innovate.

Radiolab discusses the inevitability of innovation: http://www.radiolab.org/story/101024-idea-time-come/

 

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EDIT:

Question – “What are you seeing as the difference between science, technology, and inventions? Are they the same?”

Answer – “I think that they are different definition-wise (or else they wouldn’t have their own words!) but are very strongly intertwined. I feel that science is sort of a standing fact, independent of human beings. The science exists whether we understand it or not. For instance, quarks were always quarks before we even realized it. Science is just the amazing explanation for what is and why. I think technology, on the other hand, is a concept completely dependent on humans. Inventions as well. Those are humans interacting with science and the world and building from it. “

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7 Comments

  1. Your nugget has left me conflicted, and I can’t put my finger on why. I don’t feel that man only creates science as needed. Why do we need games on the Internet? I also don’t know that new technology always brings about new problems. I do agree that we probably won’t ever stop creating, but only because we are greedy and WANT these things.

    • I think we look at the term “need” in different ways. I don’t think I meant it in the sense of “if you don’t have it you’ll die” but in a yearning sort of way. I think games on the internet were created because some people one day decided they were bored and saw the potential to entertain themselves by making the game and others by playing it. But it still arose from the problem of “I am bored with my current means of entertainment”. I respond similarly to your reply about problems. I don’t necessarily see a problem as “oh no, this doesn’t work now!” but as “well now I am bored with this side scroller game..I wish I could move in 3D!” and thus a new format of game was created. I don’t see this as greed.

    • I think that they are different definition-wise (or else they wouldn’t have their own words!) but are very strongly intertwined. I feel that science is sort of a standing fact, independent of human beings. The science exists whether we understand it or not. For instance, quarks were always quarks before we even realized it. Science is just the amazing explanation for what is and why. I think technology, on the other hand, is a concept completely dependent on humans. Inventions as well. Those are humans interacting with science and the world and building from it.

      I really enjoyed this question. If you don’t mind I will try to add this to my post later and maybe parse it out a bit more.

  2. Your nugget is very thought provoking and very well stated. I agree with your statement regarding science building man a house. We have adapted to our environments from the early stages of human existence, We have used the tools that are available to us to create better conditions for our livelihood. And indeed, we are creators.
    Also, the sentence about the pharaoh was one of the most intriguing excerpts from Bush’s article. It illuminates the relation between time, man, and the resources available to us. The resources whether tangible things or simply an improved understanding of the complex inner workings within the universe, are what we seek to employ. Human beings are constantly at a race to discover more.
    We are simply re-creating the conditions we live in, in an infinite cycle of information that is waiting for our retrieval.

  3. Pingback: Nugget Curation | The KahnQuest

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