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Portal:Technology

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The Technology Portal


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.

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DNA nanotechnology
DNA nanotechnology is the design and manufacture of artificial nucleic acid structures for technological uses. In this field, nucleic acids such as DNA are used as non-biological engineering materials for nanotechnology rather than as the carriers of genetic information in living cells. Researchers in the field have created static structures such as crystal lattices, nanotubes, polyhedra, and arbitrarily shaped DNA origami; as well as functional structures including molecular machines and DNA computers. The conceptual foundation for DNA nanotechnology was first laid out in the early 1980s, and the field began to attract widespread interest in the mid-2000s. The field is beginning to be used as a tool to solve basic science problems in structural biology and biophysics, such as protein structure determination, and potential real-world applications in nanomedicine and molecular scale electronics are under development.


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Galileo spacecraft before launch

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Russian battleship Sevastopol


Featured biography

Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler was a German Lutheran mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, and a key figure in the 17th century astronomical revolution. He is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican Astronomy. Before Kepler, planets' paths were computed by combinations of the circular motions of the celestial orbs. After Kepler, astronomers shifted their attention from orbs to orbits—paths that could be represented mathematically as an ellipse. Kepler's laws also provided one of the foundations for Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravitation. During his career Kepler was a mathematics teacher at a Graz seminary school, an assistant to Tycho Brahe, the court mathematician to Emperor Rudolf II, a mathematics teacher in Linz, Austria, and an adviser to General Wallenstein. He also did fundamental work in the field of optics and helped to legitimize the telescopic discoveries of his contemporary Galileo Galilei.


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Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein, conversation with Heinrich Zangger (1918)
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HEUraniumC.jpg
Credit: United States Department of Energy

Enriched uranium is a type of uranium in which the percentage composition of uranium-235 has been increased through the process of isotope separation. It is a critical component for both civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons.


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