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Author: William Kirby (Page 1 of 2)

Science for the People

There is no question that work in the scientific field demands a high level of intellectual capacity. Discoveries and developments can only be made with years of precise and innovative study. Yet the fact remains that science applies to everybody, and the discoveries made everyday have an impact on the lives of everyone. Science for the People is an organization committed to the idea that science is applicable for everybody. We witnessed in class through their promotional video that they are dedicated spreading their message and continuing their success: they had organizations everywhere! We saw a Science for the People in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Atlanta, Georgia, and Toronto, Canada to name just a few. Their diverse concentration of followers allows them to spread their message to a wide variety of people and a ranging population of North America. They are convinced that scientific knowledge is an essential part of everyone’s life; Science for the People wishes to make science useful and accessible for everyone. This is a noteworthy cause and is supported fundamentally throughout the country. They understand that scientific developments will come from experts in the field who dedicate their lives to the cause. However, their discoveries are essential to the lives of everyone; scientists’ work must not go unnoticed and Science for the People want to ensure this. Society deserves to have a say in field of science and I firmly believe that. Leaders in Science for the People did an excellent job of conveying this message in their video. The entire video encompasses their desire to increase their following and spread their ideals further. As I mentioned in previous posts at the beginning of the course, science and society have a cohesive relationship and depend greatly on one another. Society molds with the latest scientific advancements and society pushes science to new limits. Science demands a high level of intellectual capacity but that does not mean it cannot be influence and democratized by the masses of society.

Chemical Warfare Implications

The World Wars of the twentieth century had major implications on scientific and technological advancements as chemical warfare sparked a race for destruction. Chemical warfare is the only explanation for the immensely high death toll; over 75 million people died in a time frame equal to about a decade.  By simply analyzing the numbers, but more importantly those from World War II, it can be understood that the developments made in chemical warfare were what made that possible.

The elements of war at the time were what led to scientific and technological advances: how can we kill as much of the enemy as possible without putting our men in harms way? Scientists were pushed to the limit, simply being told to create weapons that would take the most human lives at once. Weapons were created that could wipe out entire regiments of soldiers with the click of a button. Consequently, the horrific outcome of both wars was driven by the desire to win. Nations were compelled to act in ways never yet seen before: this was most prevalent with the dropping of the atomic bomb. The United States government sanctioned the use of a weapon that took thousands of civilian lives, something we had never seen until that point. It was a display of scientific and technological dominance. The decision came out of desperation, and there is no question about that. The results of Pearl Harbor left the United States as a nation desperate for a way out. The atomic bomb gave our government that opportunity. The creators of the bomb recognized its’ scientific significance: “the atomic bomb was so terrifying that it would put an end to conventional warfare, but that, counterintuitively, this was not good, because the bomb would put in its stead a hideous peace as “horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity” (Oreskes). The idea was understood but its’ true implications were not. The dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan in Hiroshima and Nagasaki triggered the race for nuclear power and eventually, the Cold War. Because of that, the advancements made during the global wars were in fact detrimental to our society. The scientific and technological advancements made led to hysteria around the world. Nations began to compete for power, and soon countries possessed enough nuclear weapons to wipe out half of the world. Discoveries made in the mid twentieth century became the weaponry of the future, and has proved to be more destructive and more powerful than anything else.

Sacrifices in Engineering

For decades, society was under the impression that technological and engineering innovations were thought to be “male territory” only. In today’s world, women working in the engineering business have people like Amy Bix to thank for that. Bit was an engineer in the early 20th century, and in her piece, “From “Engineeresses” to “Girl Engineers” to “Good Engineers”: A History of Women’s U.S. Engineering Education”, she depicts the struggles and oppression experienced by women in the workplace, particularly as engineers. Bix was an extraordinary women with passion and conviction, and with that, was able to “To improve the climate for women in education and employment, activists organized to call attention to problems and demanded change. To aid women directly, female engineers created systems of social, psychological, and financial mutual support”. Bix was entirely aware of her surroundings; she had a complete understanding of where women were ranked in the workplace, and knew what was necessary in order to move them up. She was organized and efficient as she knew she would need to fight tirelessly to end such a popular stigma: that women did not belong in the engineering workplace. This was made evident constantly: “Engineering education in the United States has had a gendered history, one that until relatively recently prevented women from finding a place in the predominantly male technical world”. Masculinity was something women were not able to escape in the late 20th century, but women like BIx were able to have influence: “women studying or working in engineering were popularly perceived as oddities at best, outcasts at worst, defying traditional gender norms…activists fought to change that situation, to win acknowledgment of women’s ability to become good engineers”. Bix was fighting an uphill battle; gaining proportional representation in the workforce of engineering was long down the road, and nevertheless, Bix “undertook conscious, passionate campaigns to break down institutional barriers”. It is because of women like Bix that “In 1979, women made up 12.1 percent of undergraduates enrolled in engineering across the United States; by 1998, that percentage had gradually risen to 19.7 percent”. Slowly but surely women were able to work their way up in the workforce of technology and engineering in the late 20th century. We are fortunate to have women like Amy Bix to thank for her dedication and sacrifices that have significantly bettered the world we live in today.

Research Proposal Outline

Theme: The pursuit of knowledge comes at heavy price

Question: The overwhelming cost necessary to develop and pursue scientific knowledge begs the question: Are major corporations of science, such as NASA, beneficial to society and henceforth, worth the money we are putting into it?

Thesis: Government spending on NASA has increased annually for nearly a decade now, and although critics claim our tax dollars are better off elsewhere, NASA has had an immensely positive impact on our economy and society when compared to other governmental entities, and does not spend nearly as much.

For my research project, I am going to evaluate the cost/benefit analysis of a large science corporation like NASA. So much money is thrown into programs like NASA. Year after year, the bill increases, but magnificent scientific discoveries was uncovered. So my question: Is it worth it? Are our tax dollars better off elsewhere in the economy or is the space economy created and sustained by NASA sufficient enough to continue with the way things are. NASA is at the forefront of any STS topic for obvious reasons: they develop science and technology daily and those findings usually have significant impacts on society as a whole.

Paragraph 1: Introduction; Pursuit of scientific knowledge, why do we do it in the first place? and how does it defines our culture that we live? Lay the foundation of the argument. In this paragraph, I will introduce both sides of the argument and explore, on the surface, scientific knowledge and how it relates to our culture.

Science has been known to be a relatively expensive field of work since the early development of technology and experiments in the 17th century. It is not particularly hard to understand the value of science. ‘Scientific knowledge often contributes to what defines the very culture we have. Society is reliant on the fundamental ideals of scientific knowledge on a consistent basis. Scientific knowledge is apart of culture, but deserves to be recognized with significance considering its’ influence on our daily lifestyles.’ The argument is no stronger than it is today: cultures are fully defined and limited to the capabilities of their scientific knowledge and discoveries.’

Paragraph 2: history of NASA in terms of pursuing knowledge; goals of NASA as presented by them

Introduce the main argument of NASA. Explain why it is being used as the main example.

The proposed budget for the fiscal year of 2019 is just shy of $20 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space administration. They plan on receiving around $400 billion from private entities and supplemental funds. In their proposal, NASA lists their goals very specifically: Enabling U.S. Global Leadership: Our scientific, technological, aeronautics and space exploration efforts are uniquely visible expressions of American leadership, Extending Human Presence Deeper into Space Starting with the Moon for Long-term Exploration and Utilization, Expanding Human Knowledge Through New Scientific Discoveries, Addressing National Challenges that Catalyze Economic Growth, Improving Capabilities and Operations.

Paragraph 3: History of NASA budget; Is this ‘excessive spending’ a problem? Not when compared to other government expenditures.

Compare NASA to other government organizations

NASA is continually criticized for the amount of money they receive and spend on an annual basis. To the untrained eye, $20 billion seems like an overwhelming amount of money that will do nothing but continue to put our nation in debt. However, when you zoom out and look at the bigger picture, you would see that, “For all it does, NASA receives just 0.4 percent of the $4.407 trillion FY 2019 federal budget. Compare that to the Department of Defense. Its budget is $597 billion, or 13 percent of the total. DoD’s budget would pay for 30 NASA departments” (Balance).

Here is how it is broken down:

NASA receives less than any of these other six departments.

  • Health and Human Services – $69.5 billion.
  • Veterans Administration – $83.1 billion.
  • Education – $59.9 billion.
  • Homeland Security – $46.0 billion
  • Housing and Urban Development – $29.2 billion.
  • State Department – $28.3 billion.

Paragraph 4: Benefits of NASA spending; actual physical but also mental (common knowledge) benefits relate back to pursuit of knowledge; just because it has become more expensive, doesn’t mean we need to stop; refer to class text of character pursuing scientific knowledge

Why is it worth it? What physically has NASA given us? What knowledge have they given us?

“A report by the Space Foundation estimated that activities related to space contributed $180 billion to the economy in 2005. More than 60 percent of this came from commercial goods and services created by companies related to space technology. The space economy includes commercial space products and services. It also includes commercial infrastructure and support industries. It also counts aerospace budgets in private companies.” (Balance).

Paragraph 5: Conclusion

How can NASA make better use of their money and expenditures? What can the government do? Why do we even need NASA? What would happen without NASA…

‘Scientific knowledge has a special status in our culture. Whether we recognize it or not, our societies can only go as far as our scientific knowledge allows us too. So long as scientific knowledge continues to grow, our cultures and societies will follow suit and be able to advance simultaneously.’





Importance of Scientific Knowledge

Scientific knowledge often contributes to what defines the very culture we have. Society is reliant on the fundamental ideals of scientific knowledge on a consistent basis. Scientific knowledge is apart of culture, but deserves to be recognized with significance considering its’ influence on our daily lifestyles. C.P. Snow discussed the separation and disparity that emerged between literary intellects and scientists during the mid 20th century in his piece, The Two Cultures. And although Snow has several valid arguments, the highest ends of literary and scientific knowledge coexist on a daily basis. Whether in the workplace, at school, or in your own home, society functions because of our ability to understand scientific knowledge, and incorporate those understandings into the cultural lifestyles that we live.

Many of the actions performed by human beings on a regular basis can be attributed to advanced scientific knowledge when we do not even realize it. The smallest of discoveries can have enormous impacts. For example, the fact that two hydrogen atoms combined with one oxygen atom formed to make H2O, or water. This basic principle has been understood for decades and has, and will continue to, play a role in every person’s daily life. I do not sit on the third floor of Miller Library and think to myself, ‘Wow. All of this: the architecture, the energy sources, my materials, etc., they were all made possible because of scientific discoveries’. Our society evolves into fluid cycles where cultures change and adapt only with the latest scientific advancement. The argument is no stronger than it is today: cultures are fully defined and limited to the capabilities of their scientific knowledge and discoveries. Because of this reason, it it my belief that scientific knowledge does deserve a special status in our culture. Whether we recognize it or not, our societies can only go as far as our scientific knowledge allows us too. So long as scientific knowledge continues to grow, our cultures and societies will follow suit and be able to advance simultaneously.

Unconventional Evolution

The theories that Charles Darwin brought forth in the late 1850’s sparked scientific debate across the entire world. The ideas brought forth through his theory of evolution were labeled outlandish and nonsensical. He questioned the very creation of mankind, something scientists had believed to be fact for decades. He proved that science has the capability, and the power, to influence an entire society’s way of thinking. It is because of men like Charles Darwin that scientists today are not completely rejected when they propose eccentric, unconventional theories. Darwin proved that science was capable of so much more than just experiments and numbers. Through observations of the nature world, with the inhabitants that roam it, he came to the conclusion that man did not miraculously come from nowhere. Instead, Darwin concluded that we were just heavily evolved mammals that adapted and changed with our environment. Because of his findings, we now understand our world in an entirely different manner. Darwin was ridiculed and scorned for his proposals: “Some of these ‘mental riotings’, as he dubbed them, took him very far along the road of materialism, the philosophical doctrine of believing that there were no spiritual or divine forces in nature, only matter. If he denied the createdness of everything, where did that leave human beings and our hopes of salvation?” (Browne 42). Darwin questioned the very basis of human life in the 1850’s. He challenged the ideals of the Church, and he paid a price for it, which he knew he would. His ideas could not necessarily be proven through experimental demonstrations, and therefore were deemed almost ludicrous, but this did not persuade Darwin. He would not be outlasted by the clergymen who so desperately wanted him to fail. Darwin set a precedent of excellence for scientists, as well as science in general, with his work in the mid 19th century because he challenged fundamental beliefs and proved theories never thought possible in ‘unconventional’ scientific practices.

Themes of Frankenstein

Many themes presented in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein were applicable to the present time period of 1818, yet a majority of the themes are relevant in today’s world. The most apparent theme in the beginning of the text was Victor’s appreciation for the natural beauty he encountered on his journey. Traveling through icy mountains, struggling to escape the past that eludes him, he expresses how the seasons and characteristics of nature were able to aid him: “The present season was indeed divine; the flowers of spring bloomed…those of summer were already in bud: I was undisturbed by thoughts which during the preceding year had pressed upon me…with an invincible burden” (53). Victor, who had endured numerous struggles throughout the novel, was always appeased by the beauty of the natural world. Victor was different because he understood the nature world for what it was entirely. He saw the perils and dangers of hell that nature can bestow, yet he was able to overcome nature’s misery and be restored by its’ elements. Victor made this apparent when he stated, “my health and spirits had long been restored, and they gained additional strength from the salubrious air I breathed” (53). The effects the elements had on Victor were obvious; the sublime world was one Victor could appreciate. The theme is presently numerously throughout Shelley’s text along with many other themes that can be connected with the ideals of today’s world.

Science and technology allow us to understand and appreciate the sublime world far more than it ever did in 1818. Because of science and technology, the possibilities are endless. We can see stars exploded millions of miles away in the universe. We can see into the depths of the undiscovered ocean floor and witness what magnificent events of nature take place in pure darkness. We can travel anywhere in the world to see breathtaking beauty which would not be possible if it were not for the technological and scientific advancements we have made. Victors traveling, I believe, represented this idea to a limited extent. In 1818, the idea of traveling into the mountains of unchartered territory with no one but yourself would be pushing the limits of what science and technology had achieved up until that point. Victors travels led discoveries both physically and mentally that many people long to discover in today’s world. People ache for a sense of purpose and longing in this world; uncover the beauty of nature did that for Victor to an extent. Science and technology in today’s world allow for exploration and new discoveries to be made everyday. Because of science and technology, we can experience the thrills felt by Victor with just the push of a button, or least, do our best to try.

Establishing Success During the Scientific Revolution

The Scientific Revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth century was forged through the curiosity of scientists like Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo (to name a few). We can thank these men for their colossal imaginations as they ventured into a world of science that had never truly been analyzed before. Going above and beyond, literally, these scientists used their skills to look beyond the realm of normal science. Until this point, the Church controlled most of the scientific theories and did their best to dictate the lives of their followers. It was only until scientists began to study the world around us in an attempt to uncover our true place in this elaborate universe. To be fair, not all of these men were correct in their discoveries, and in fact, many of them were completely off base. Yet, their work ethic and courage to study something new inspired scientists everywhere. Periodically, scientists were coming out with theories that denounced those of the past and even proposed ideas of the future. Not every one would turn out to be fact, but that was not the point. Scientists were diving into a new field of study causing excitement and curiosity, which in turn, led to more scientists, theories, and eventually, true facts that help dictate our world even to this day.

Although Copernicus was not the first to propose the heliocentric model of a Sun centered solar system, his name is rarely not used in the same sentence as ‘heliocentric model’. His persistence and commitment to his studies allowed him to uncover the truth (mostly), and his legacy lives on because of this. Copernicus refused to believe the proposed idea of the geocentric model of the universe. He very easily could have simply accepted the theory for what it was and moved on to something new. Instead, like all great scientists, Copernicus tested the limits and explored new truths, which as a whole, embodies what the Scientific Revolution was all about. It was a time of question and exploration into new ideas and new theories. Studies were beginning to poke the surface of science that had never even been researched before. The idea of expanding and exploring new ideas inspired scientists everywhere to go beyond the realm of established Church ideals and philosophies. It is as if a new found love for science emerged during the period of the Scientific Revolution. Pushing, refuting, and contradicting one another was the only way for scientists to uncover the truth and eliminate false theories. This passion and commitment to success was born during the sixteenth century, and science has been benefitting from it ever since.

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