Home > Uncategorized > “Science” and “Technology:” What’s The Difference?

“Science” and “Technology:” What’s The Difference?

The article, “Perspectives on the Nature of Science” talked about various subjects. In particular, though, I paid attention to the definition of the word “technology,” and how it differed from the definition of the word “science,” according to these particular authors. They are basic words in the English language, and I think we often use them without genuinely thinking about their meaning or implication. The article was useful to me because it allowed me to really think about these two words and learn what some people perceive to be the differences between them.

Technology. The article conveys this word as the search for answers to particular, specific problems. This, of course, makes sense, and we have millions of examples of technology in our lives, ranging from computers, cell phones, and iPods, to items that we could consider more basic, such as toaster ovens, electricity, and ballpoint pens. Problems and gaps in our society were identified, and individuals quickly got to work, sometimes dedicating their lives to solve these problems. It was—although, given as technology is still being produced every day, the better word would be “is”—the goal of these particular people to move our general humanity and state of existence in a forward direction.

I found it interesting that “science” is referred to in the article as a wide array of research about a broad, yet specific topic. It is broad in that the focus is wide: computer science, for example. However, it is specific in that there is a clear focus: some scientists may focus on hardware, other on software, but no computer scientist will be looking to establish a new, more eco-friendly light bulb. I think the more important segment of the definition is the “broad” part. Science is broad, widely sweeping, generalizing, expansive and all-encompassing research. With that said, technology, then, represents a fragment of science, a particular element of a certain science that, by nature, demands extensive attention.

I’ve never considered one to be part of the other. Rather, I’ve looked at technology and science as synonyms, in a way.  As equals, at least. Isn’t any work done in a laboratory, or in a doctor’s office, or anywhere else, science? Isn’t something being learned or discovered? Isn’t something else most likely being refuted or discounted? If we established that science is research on a subject—a definition which is extremely broad, then I was surprised to learn that technology, or the attaining of technological advances refers to something a little bit more concrete. Is technology more about ideas or questions that an individual set out to discover, as opposed to science, that were merely stumbled on while a scientist or doctor, et cetera was working on studying a particular field? For example, the lightbulb was deliberately invented by Thomas Edison. This was technology. Other inventions were discovered in a more roundabout, luck-of-the-draw way. Science was in the works, and a discovery was made. Maybe this is the distinction. I think there is an element of ambiguity that exists, at least in my mind, about these two terms work, how they fit together, and how they don’t.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. September 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Some say that technology is only science that is applied to everyday life. For example, a microwave oven came from science, but it is a piece of technology that we use almost every day.

    When you said in your last paragraph “other inventions were discovered in a … luck of the draw way”, we can’t forget that those inventions are also technology, so science is not always “stumbling” upon facts or ideas.

    Certain ideas are discovered on purpose, although these ideas are not always unsurprising. For example, when Francesco Redi conducted his famous spontaneous generation experiment, he set out to find out whether or not spontaneous generation was real. This shows that he did not just “stumble” on the fact that meat left out in the open did not turn into flies.

    At other times, technology was stumbled upon. For example, the microwave oven was “stumbled” upon when Percy Spencer accidentally melted a piece of chocolate in his pocket. The microwave oven is a piece of technology, and it was no invented on purpose. It was only modified to better serve its role as a time saving food preparation machine.

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