We look to nature to provide us with everything we need. Science and technology has exploited nature and we have transport systems and communications systems that would have been unheard of a hundred years ago. The technology that goes into the average car involves materials, fuel, electrical, paint, hydraulics and electronics. The technology gets more and more diverse and sophisticated. Soon we will have computer and communication links in our cars. We already tend to use satellite technology to find our way. Soon we will have far more information at our disposal and all voice controlled as we drive. Maybe one day we can travel without even driving? Beam me up, Scotty!
The science of materials has given us steel and then in the latter part of the 20th century, semi conductors for electronics and plastics for all kinds of goods. Most scientific discoveries are based on new materials or uses for materials. Nature holds many mysteries and scientists unlock the mysteries and technologists then exploit them by developing new products to make our lives richer and easier.
Telecommunications have become more sophisticated with smart phones and cellular communications. We imagine a future world of robots that we can talk to. Are we moving in that direction? We have phones that obey voice commands and satellite navigation systems in our cars that talk to us and give us directions. Voice mail systems also communicate with us. How long will it be before we always talk to computers? We tend to take new technology for granted. How long before we take talking to the machines for granted? How long will it be before we ask the machines to pay taxes like we do?
The natural world is so complex, with a huge number of atoms of different elements combining together to form an vast number of different molecules. We can sit back and watch, by observation we can learn. As I write this a storm is ending, the water will evaporate when the sun comes out. When water evaporates it cools, do you know why? My windows are cooler with the rain on the outside, but there is also water on the insides. Are they leaking? The moisture in the air is condensing on the cool windows. The molecules of water vapour are warm and ‘excited’ when they hit the cool windows they become less ‘excited’ and stop jumping around, they settle as water droplets on the cool window as condensation. This can cause damp, when they settle on a cold wall.
Scientists ask questions, they observe nature and they experiment. Through these means they learn how to use the natural work to bring us new things. We are curious about the world we live in and so we are natural experimenters. You can do your own scientific experiments and observe what happens. Just try observing the science around you, the natural world and ask questions. Ask why!
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