A steam turbine
with the case opened. Such turbines produce most of the electricity used today. Electricity consumption and living standards are highly correlated. Electrification is believed to be the most important engineering achievement of the 20th century.
Technology ("science of craft", from Greek τέχνη, techne, "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and -λογία, -logia) is the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation. Technology can be the knowledge of techniques, processes, and the like, or it can be embedded in machines to allow for operation without detailed knowledge of their workings.
The simplest form of technology is the development and use of basic tools. The prehistoric discovery of how to control fire and the later Neolithic Revolution increased the available sources of food, and the invention of the wheel helped humans to travel in and control their environment. Developments in historic times, including the printing press, the telephone, and the Internet, have lessened physical barriers to communication and allowed humans to interact freely on a global scale.
Technology has many effects. It has helped develop more advanced economies (including today's global economy) and has allowed the rise of a leisure class. Many technological processes produce unwanted by-products known as pollution and deplete natural resources to the detriment of Earth's environment. Innovations have always influenced the values of a society and raised new questions of the ethics of technology. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity, and the challenges of bioethics.
Philosophical debates have arisen over the use of technology, with disagreements over whether technology improves the human condition or worsens it. Neo-Luddism, anarcho-primitivism, and similar reactionary movements criticize the pervasiveness of technology, arguing that it harms the environment and alienates people; proponents of ideologies such as transhumanism and techno-progressivism view continued technological progress as beneficial to society and the human condition.
In this month
Did you know...
Joseph Francis Shea
(1926–1999) was an aerospace engineer and NASA
manager. Born in the Bronx
, New York
, he was educated at the University of Michigan
, receiving a Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics
in 1955. After working for Bell Labs
on the radio inertial guidance system
of the Titan I intercontinental ballistic missile
, he was hired by NASA in 1961. As Deputy Director of NASA's Office of Manned Space Flight, and later as head of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, Shea played a key role in shaping the course of the Apollo program
, helping to lead NASA to the decision in favor of lunar orbit rendezvous
and supporting "all up" testing of the Saturn V
rocket. While sometimes causing controversy within the agency, Shea was remembered by his former colleague George Mueller
as "one of the greatest systems engineers of our time". Deeply involved in the investigation of the Apollo 1
fire, Shea suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of the stress that he suffered. He was removed from his position and left NASA shortly afterwards. From 1968 until 1990 he worked as a senior manager at Raytheon
in Lexington, Massachusetts
, and thereafter became an adjunct professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT
. While Shea served as a consultant for NASA on the redesign of the International Space Station
in 1993, he was forced to resign from the position due to health issues.
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