Friday, July 29, 2011

History of Science and Technology

The science and technology is as old as the human civilization itself. Not only that both can be considered to be running parallel, but they can be taken to be in symbiotic mode. They mutually feed each other’s growth.

The homo sapiens might not have suffered nature silently and helplessly like other animals for long. The sense of mere wonderment was soon accompanied by curiosity and inquisitiveness - the ‘what, why and how’. Man from the very beginning was manipulative and interfering. Tool making, hunting, food gathering, rudimentary protection against rigours of nature, was beginning of primitive civilization as well as primitive science and technology. Discovery of fire making was perhaps a very significant breakthrough. Invention of the wheel was a very important technological event. It should be realized that the crucial impacts made by these simple primitive discoveries and inventions on the course of civilization, can not be easily matched even by the high profile discoveries and inventions of this age. In fact the importance of scientific and technological development is to be appreciated relative to the stages of civilization.

Still any meaningful review of the past of civilization, and therefore, of science and technology has to embrace vast expanses of space and time. Let it cover at least the entire old world – i.e., Eurasia and Africa. There is a tradition of generally ignoring exploits of civilizations like Maya (Middle America - 600 BC to 1400 AD), Aztec Mexico etc. – 1100 AD to 1500 AD) and Inca (Peru – 1300 to 1600 AD, in the American continents and Chinese etc. in the orient. So let it be like that territorially for now. Then time wise, as there is a prehistory period of civilization, so is with science and technology.

It is also to be borne in mind that the historical contents and frontiers of knowledge are liable to constant changes. The historical picture of science and technology delineated here, is as it stood towards the beginning of twenty first century. New knowledge can always change the view.