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Technology or science?

  1. Nov 8, 2011 #1
    Does 'Science precedes technology' or 'technology precedes science?'

    Think about atomic clocks used in GPS satellites.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 14, 2011 #2

    Drakkith

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    From wikipedia:

    Science (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

    Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function.

    I'd say both go hand in hand. Technology is the practical application of science. If one had to come first I'd say science.
     
  4. Nov 15, 2011 #3

    Ryan_m_b

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    Generally science comes before the technology as you have to have an understanding of the principles to be able to know how to utilise them. However the underlying principles for some technologies may not be fully understood for example; we still don't know exactly how paracetamol works. And in some circumstances the technology may be an accident that leads to the discovery of the science behind it, though I can't think of any examples off of the top of my head.
     
  5. Nov 15, 2011 #4

    Pythagorean

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    Wrong question. It is not an either/or thing. Also, you seem to be priming imus towards an answer you want to hear with your specific example.
     
  6. Nov 15, 2011 #5

    D H

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    Consider astronomy. Here, improvements in telescope technology have led to advancements in astronomy and astrophysics. In astronomy, technology typically precedes science. That said, some of those improvements in telescope technology were made thanks to scientific advancements outside of the field of astronomy.

    Consider physics. Building the Large Hadron Collider was largely an engineering endeavor rather than a scientific one. The hope is that the technology behind the LHC will enable physics to make significant advancements. So here we once again have technology leading science. Or do we? While the technology behind the LHC doesn't depend on our knowledge of the Higgs field, it most certainly does depend on prior developments in physics.

    Bottom line: The question is a false dichotomy. They go hand in hand.
     
  7. Nov 15, 2011 #6

    Ryan_m_b

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    Yup, you could also say it was cyclic. One of them gives rise to the other which gives rise back again to the former etc etc etc.
     
  8. Nov 15, 2011 #7

    HallsofIvy

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    A good example of the interchange beween technology and science is the transistor. In the early days of radiio, they used "crystals" and you had to move a wire on the crysta to improve the signall. Those were soon replaced with "improved" sets that used "tubes" instead. But then, eventually, tubes were replace by the much better transitors- which really fancy crystals. The original crystal sets were "technology", invented by people who tried this and that until it worked without really understanding the science behind it. Transistors were the result of scientists working out the science behind the crystal sets.
     
  9. Nov 17, 2011 #8
    I think there are a lot of examples of technology coming first.
    We had steam power, cannon, and heat before we understood thermodynamics.
    The technology can become practical long before science understands what is actually going on. People doing real work stumble upon things that work, some may question it, most just keep doing what works. Blacksmiths made steel swords long before we knew how to make steel.(I think that is where all of the magic sword legends come from.)
    They did not have enough quality control to repeat the process.
    Only in the 20th century did it start to move more to science first.
     
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