PHYSICS IN RELATION TO TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY
Technology is the application of the principles of physics for practical purposes. The application of knowledge for practical purposes in various fields to invent and produce useful products or to solve problems is known as technology. Thus, physics and technology can both together impact our society directly or indirectly. For example,
· Basic laws of electricity and magnetism led to the discovery of wireless communication technology which has shrunk the world with effective communication over large distances.
· The launching of satellite into space has revolutionized the concept of communication.
· Microelectronics, lasers, computers, superconductivity and nuclear energy have comprehensively changed the thinking and living style of human beings.
Physics being a fundamental science has played a vital role in the development of all other sciences. A few examples:
1. Physics in relation to Chemistry: In physics, we study the structure of atom, radioactivity, X-ray diffraction etc. Such studies have enabled researchers in chemistry to arrange elements in the periodic table on the basis of their atomic numbers. This has further helped to know the nature of valence and chemical bonding and to understand the complex chemical structures. Inter-disciplinary branches like Physical chemistry and Quantum chemistry play important roles here.
2. Physics in relation to biology: Biological studies are impossible without a microscope designed using physics principles. The invention of the electron microscope has made it possible to see even the structure of a cell. X-ray and neutron diffraction techniques have helped us to understand the structure of nucleic acids, which help to control vital life processes. X-rays are used for diagnostic purposes. Radio-isotopes are used in radiotherapy for the cure of cancer and other diseases. In recent years, biological processes are being studied from the physics point of view.
3. Physics in relation to mathematics: Physics is a quantitative science. It is most closely related to mathematics as a tool for its development.
4. Physics in relation to astronomy: Astronomical telescopes are used to study the motion of planets and other heavenly bodies in the sky. Radio telescopes have enabled the astronomers to observe distant points of the universe. Studies of the universe are done using physical principles.
5. Physics in relation to geology: Diffraction techniques helps to study the crystal structure of various rocks. Radioactivity is used to estimate the age of rocks, fossils and the age of the Earth.
6. Physics in relation to oceanography: Oceanographers seek to understand the physical and chemical processes of the oceans. They measure parameters such as temperature, salinity, current speed, gas fluxes, chemical components.
7. Physics in relation to psychology: All psychological interactions can be derived from a physical process. The movements of neurotransmitters are governed by the physical properties of diffusion and molecular motion. The functioning of our brain is related to our underlying dualism.
Nature teaches true science with physics as an efficient tool. Science and technology should be used in a balanced manner so that they do not become weapons to destroy nature which taught us science. Global warming and other negative impacts of technology need to be checked. Safe science with moderate and appropriate use of technology is the need of this century.
The scope and opportunities for higher education in physics and various fellowships offered is given in the beginning of the book.