Technology is the practical use of science, including the making, modification or improvement, applied activity or behavior, use and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, methods of organization, or environmental modifications or arrangement in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, modifications, environmental arrangement and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species' ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The word technology comes from Greek τεχνολογία (technología); from τέχνη (téchnē), meaning 'art, skill, craft', and -λογία (-logía), meaning 'study of-'. The term can be applied either generally or to many specific areas, examples of which include construction technology, medical technology and information technology.
The human species' use of technology began with the conversion of natural resources into simple tools. The prehistorical discovery of the ability to control fire increased the available sources of food and the invention of the wheel helped humans in travelling in and controlling their environment. Recent technological developments, including the printing press, the telephone, and the Internet, have lessened physical barriers to communication and allowed humans to interact freely on a global scale. However, not all technology has been used for peaceful purposes; the development of weapons of ever-increasing destructive power has progressed throughout history, from clubs to nuclear weapons.
Technology has affected society and its surroundings in a number of ways. In many societies, technology has helped develop more advanced economies (including today's global economy) and has allowed the rise of a leisure class. Many technological processes produce unwanted by-products, known as pollution, and deplete natural resources, to the detriment of the Earth and its environment. Various implementations of technology influence the values of a society and new technology often raises new ethical questions. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity, a term originally applied only to machines, and the challenge of traditional norms.
Philosophical debates have arisen over the present and future use of technology in society, with disagreements over whether technology improves the human condition or worsens it. Neo-Luddism, anarcho-primitivism, and similar movements criticise the pervasiveness of technology in the modern world, opining that it harms the environment and alienates people; proponents of ideologies such as transhumanism and techno-progressivism view continued technological progress as beneficial to society and the human condition. Indeed, until recently, it was believed that the development of technology was restricted only to human beings, but recent scientific studies indicate that other primates and certain dolphin communities have developed simple tools and learned to pass their knowledge to other generations.
The city of Minneapolis
is covered by a citywide broadband wireless internet network
, sometimes called Wireless Minneapolis
. The network was first proposed in 2003, at which point only a few other cities nationwide had such systems in place. Local firm US Internet
beat out EarthLink
to build and operate the network, with a guaranteed ten-year, multi-million-dollar contract from the city itself as the network's anchor tenant. Construction began on the project in 2006, but encountered several delays. Most of the city was covered by the network by 2010, and USI Wireless, the subsidiary of US Internet responsible for the system, set up numerous free internet access points at public locations around Minneapolis. The network, which offers speeds of one to six megabits per second
at a rate of about $20 per month, has about 20,000 residential subscribers and is on track to reach 30,000 subscribers by 2013. Municipally, the network is used by city inspectors and employees, with plans in place for the police and fire departments to use it in the future. In 2007, when the I-35W Mississippi River bridge
collapsed, the wireless system helped coordinate rescuers and emergency services. The city and USI Wireless have won praise for the network, which has been singled out for being one of the few successful municipal wireless ventures
nationwide among a number of stalled or failed projects.
In this month
Did you know...
was a pioneering American
scientist and one of the world's most distinguished cytogeneticists
. McClintock received her PhD
from Cornell University
in 1927, where she was a leader in the development of maize
cytogenetics; the field remained the focus of her research for the rest of her career. Her work was groundbreaking: she developed the technique to visualize maize chromosomes and used microscopic analysis to demonstrate many fundamental genetic concepts, including genetic recombination
—a mechanism by which chromosomes exchange information. She produced the first genetic map for maize, linking regions of the chromosome with physical traits, and she demonstrated the role of the telomere
, regions of the chromosome that are important in the conservation of genetic information. During the 1940s and 1950s, McClintock discovered transposition and using this system showed how genes
are responsible for turning on or off physical characteristics. Awards and recognition of her contributions to the field followed, including the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
awarded to her in 1983 for the discovery of genetic transposition
; she was the first and only woman to receive an unshared Nobel Prize in that category.
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