Scientific Method and Western Culture
Technology in western culture has been advancing dramatically in the past 100 years. Things we take for granted today were not even in peoples’ dreams twenty years ago. Automobiles, cell phones, computers, and the internet are perfect examples of this technological advancement. These items and others have redefined many people’s environment and how they live their lives. The scientific method has played an integral role in the development of these products. Over time, man has always asked the question “What if?” and focused on making things easier. The scientific method has executed those questions and in turn helped advance western culture to what it is today.
There are numerous items in my daily life that I take for granted. Most of these items are certain conveniences that were not available in years past. It seems that most of these inventions used the scientific method; however, it’s hard to believe that they all did. The automobile, for example, is a modern convenience that I—and my family—probably could not live without. A few centuries ago, someone asked “What if” and an inventor created a personal wheeled device. The first automobiles were steam, electric, and gasoline powered. Scientists and auto-makers realized that the most abundant source of power would be gasoline. Auto makers developed internal combustion engines based on scientific experiments that proved gasoline would produce the most horsepower. Plus, at the time, gasoline seemed like the most abundant fuel source. At the turn of the 20th century, electricity was not that common so it did not catch on as much gasoline. The scientific method helped this technology; however, scientists did not realize the long term affects until many years later (Britannica, 2009).
The Industrial Revolution is another bit of history that used scientific method to advance the western culture at a cost to the environment. This Revolution has definitely taken its toll on the earth and created a negative image of our way of life in the United States and other western cultures. Currently, however, the United States and many other nations are involved with reversing our dependency on fossil fuels. This way of life will be a complete change in convenience from what we are all currently used to. In the book Cradle to Cradle, authors William McDonough & Kenneth Braungart state that“We are at the beginning of the next Industrial Revolution” (McDonough & Braungart, 2002). The authors of this book are spot on with what is currently going on in our culture. We have made observations and questioned why things are the way that they are. We have also focused on developing science that doesn’t rely 100% on fossil fuels and designing systems with more of a holistic approach. This type of science and advancement is something that I am proud to be a part of and pass along to my children.
I believe that the text for this class picked the perfect quote from Carl Sagan to describe why science matters. In the quote, Sagan states that we “profoundly depend on science and technology” (Withgott & Brennan, 2008, p. 11). We as a human race depend on our technological conveniences to make it through the day. I am excited about this class and to learn about how science can advance our civilization into the next Industrial Revolution.
McDonough W. & Braungart, M. (2002). Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. New York: North Point Press.
Withgott & Brennan (2008). Environment: The Science behind the Stories. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Educational, Inc.
automobile. (2009). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved November 2, 2009, from Encyclopedia Britannica Online: http://search.eb.com/eb/article-259062