Peter Stoler: Pulling the Nuclear Plug Reading Summary

In this Time Magazine article from 1984, author Peter Stoler discuses the state of the nuclear power industry during the 1980’s. He also explains what the viewpoint of engineers and scientists were following the end of World War II and looking towards harnessing nuclear energy for electrical power. Even though atomic energy was first put to use for mass destruction, many people sought to utilize it for electrical energy during peacetime starting in the 1950’s and technically lasting through the 21st century. At the start, people believed that nuclear energy would become such a widespread source of energy, that electricity prices would become much cheaper for consumers. Unfortunately though, the nuclear power industry has gone through multiple rough patches since its early days of implementation, some of which include isolated and sometimes widespread accidents that have occurred in various countries.

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It is very interesting though how throughout the history of nuclear power, some people thought it would not last while others continue to champion its triumph in terms of being a source of constant energy. Stoler discussed in his article how the nuclear power industry had been struggling during the 1970’s and 80’s but he along with many others knew that it would only grow stronger through the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Surprisingly enough, the public in many countries around the world, despite some of the risks, have accepted nuclear energy as a major source of power alongside natural gas, coal, and types of clean, renewable, energy. Even though nuclear power does pose a semi-significant health threat, local and even nationwide governments still cannot deny the benefits of having nuclear power plants nearby that provide constant, unaltered electricity. I am very keen to observe how people treat nuclear energy in the next couple decades, especially considering how some plants are being shut down in the United States while certain countries in Europe still have plans to put more into place.

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If you would like to dive more into what makes nuclear power unique or how widespread its use is around the world, please check the following links.

http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-power/nuclear-power-technology/how-nuclear-power-works#.WPT47dIrKUk

http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/nuclear-power-in-the-world-today.aspx

Word Count: 348

Alvin M. Weinberg: Science and Trans-Science Reading Summary

This paper is an intriguing dive into what society asks of scientists and the relationships that people develop with various technologies. Weinberg points out that society can ask science various sorts of questions and expect science to have all the answers but not every one of them can be answered in a straightforward, logical manner. He proposes that those questions which cannot be explicitly answered should be categorized as “trans-science” in that people have to go a step further to find the answers they are looking for. This can be tied in with the different relationships individuals have with various technologies since some were created by scientists to advance a specific field while others were invented by non-scientists for public use.

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Weinberg continued by stating how something being considered as trans-science can infer that decisions are being made that must go above and beyond the strict limits of what science can achieve. There are methods of undertaking projects that scientists cannot be involved in while the overall public can, such as those that involve taking responsibility for the judgments you make. This however, can cause serious debates between the public and those who consider themselves to be scientists in any field of study. These debates can range from the differences between the ends and means of completing a task to the repercussions that could arise from successfully fulfilling that task. It all comes down to the question of, if society cannot find an answer in general science, what will they do in order to find the answer they are looking for?

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For specific details on what scientists do not involve themselves in or to see some incredible questions that scientists are working hard to answer, please check the links below.

http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/0_0_0/whatisscience_12

http://www.iflscience.com/physics/top-10-unsolved-mysteries-science/

John Jewkes, David Sawers, and Richard Stillerman: The Sources of Innovation Reading Summary

This article, written back in 1969, starts off by making the important point that technological progress, even if it is well known among people, cannot entirely be statistically valued. Professor Jewkes of Oxford University also poses the question as to whether or not the technological advances of the 19th century were any more important than those made in the 20th century up until that point. There will never be a mathematical way of measuring the importance and influence of different technologies, especially considering some went through many more stages than others. However, there are ways to practically value the impact different technologies have had economically on businesses and even the everyday social lives of people in many cases.

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The technological advances of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries had different impacts on the people of the times and sometimes did not occur as frequently as many people think, says Jewkes. He discusses how in many cases, an entire community of individuals would set out to push the boundaries of innovations and come up with inventions as a collective group. The only issue was that the public, not the inventors, was mostly likely to decide whether or not said inventions were more “important” than others. Professor Jewkes brings up a very important point of discussion in that these technologies from the past few centuries did not necessarily come out of advances in the areas of “pure science”. Instead, he proposes that the opposite occurs where many advances in the modern technology of an age can lead to innovations in science as well.

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If you would like to read up on some of the arguably most important/influential technologies of the 20th century or how different types of modern technology have impacted humanity over time, please check out the links down below.

http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-inventions-of-the-20th-century.php

http://www.academia.edu/346486/Technological_Advancements_and_Its_Impact_on_Humanity

 

Short Research Paper #3: Television Rules the Nation

Television has no doubt been an extremely influential technology across the globe that transformed the way people perceive the outside world. However, it has also become a major form of media that has been involved in controversy since the first televisions rolled out up until the present day. The history of television is quite interesting with its roots in old school projectors and having to rely on signals transmitted by satellites orbiting the planet. Now everybody who grew up in the 1990’s has fully witnessed the change from big, chunky televisions to smooth, higher resolution flat screen t.v.’s. Yet, despite all this, televisions started out much smaller than chunky, “grandfather” style t.v.’s and only had three or four channels that were all in black and white. Actually, it has been almost 55 year since the fist satellite was sent up for the sole purpose of transmitting a televised signal across multiple countries.

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Television has been an incredible tool for the expansion of culture through music, films, and t.v. shows but it has also caused issues across the board for various reasons. First is that the media, aka news sources, have become so politically charged that it is almost impossible to receive 100% legitimate facts anymore. Also, television has become a staple for multiple generations now as they grow up and that has led to problems with the images that children are exposed to. Not just in the realm of violence or sex, but body image for women and what it means to be masculine for men have all been reoccurring concerns for future and current young people.

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All in all, television has become so concrete in peoples lives that we had to create divisions within the Federal Government just to regulate what is allowed to be shown publicly. Scientists had a hunch early on about the negative effects from watching too much of it and we now know that too much television is bad fro you physically and can damage your eyesight due too much blue light exposure. So its both a give and take, just as there are pros and cons to most types of mass produced technologies, the same goes for television. Despite the many ways the television has brought humanity together and revolutionized the entertainment industry, it has brought new concerns and controversies along with it.

Summon Sources:

  1. Cotlar, Andrew D. “The Road Not Yet Traveled: Why the FCC should Issue Digital must-Carry Rules for Public Television “First”.” Federal Communications Law Journal 57.1 (2004): 49-80. ProQuest. Web. 7 Mar. 2017.
  2. Lotz, Amanda D.. Cable Guys : Television and Masculinities in the 21st Century. New York: NYU Press, 2014. Ebook Library. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.
  3. The First Television and Telephone Satellite Launched 50 Years Ago Techversary]. Chatham: Newstex, 2012. ProQuest. Web. 7 Mar. 2017.

     Additional Resources:
  4. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/newsplus/prolonged-television-viewing-linked-to-increased-health-risks/
  5. Just for fun, Daft Punk: Television Rules the Nation/Crescendolls Live- https://youtu.be/Hg3G1E2tNCA

Piller and Bryant: Paved Highways and the Origin of the Automobile Engine Article Summaries

The first of these two articles, by Dan Piller, discusses the social implications of paved highways in the United States. While the U.S. government was worrying about wars and diplomacy around the world, all generations of Americans were utilizing highways in different ways. Piller gives in example of this in that highways not only allowed cities to expand outward but also created new markets from the traffic that developed. Finally, paved highways allowed for products to be shipped from one place to another in a much cheaper and more efficient manner than before.

The second of these two articles, by Lynwood Bryant, discusses the background and early influences that led to the creation of the first automobile engine. The article gets very technical on the specifics of how gas combustion creates massive amounts of heat within the engine to generate power through a system called the Otto Cycle. The impact that automobiles would have on world society and economics would become crucial during the 20th century. People everywhere could individually transport themselves, other, and even products across mass amounts of land at very impressive speeds.

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These two technological developments would work hand in hand throughout the 1900’s and into the 21st century to help the United States cement itself as a major manufacturer and distributor worldwide. Highways and the automobiles that drove on them could transport goods from one side of the country to the other, allowing for international trade to countries from Europe to Asia.

By: Giuseppe Vitale

If you would like to see a cool timeline of the different stages of development over time for the automobile engine or how ancient cultures utilized the paved roads of their day, please check the links below.

https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/auto.html

http://www.ancestraljourneys.org/earlyroads.shtml

Word count: 288 words

Emailing: A Whole New Way to Communicate

We use it everyday, maybe not as much as say instant messaging, otherwise known as texting, but people around the world send emails via the internet every single day. Most people always jump to companies like Google, Microsoft, or their local providers such as Verizon or Comcast as one of the first companies to begin the email trend. However, the first true EMAIL message was sent through the program as early as 1971 by a man named Ray Tomlinson. Before the end of the decade the program would become a widely used system among various types of companies including military contractors.  By the turn of the century, the email system was being used by billions of people across the globe and multiple computer companies attempted to put their own spin on it.

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The social and economic impact email has had on modern society can never be fully measured. For people in business, life was made much easier since you no longer had to send a message in the mail or call someone, you just had to send them an email. Families were now able to keep in touch no matter where they were in the world. Anybody who needed to send a relatively quick message to someone else could do so without even leaving their chair. People even began to meet other strangers online and would send each other messages through emailing the. The universal use of email not only made people much more efficient in their given jobs but created a whole new social dynamic between individuals that had never been seen before in human history.

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Sources:

http://www.nethistory.info/History%20of%20the%20Internet/email.html

http://www.inventorofemail.com/history_of_email.asp#Introduction

The IBM Simon: The Great-Grandfather of the Modern Smartphone

Interestingly enough, when the majority of individuals are asked about what the first smartphone was, the most common answer is that it was the original Blackberry. Well not to rain in on Blackberry’s parade, but it was in fact IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) that designed and released the first smartphone way back in 1994. It’s name was Simon, and although it was chunky and did not visually look anywhere near today’s smartphones, it has become known as the great-grandfather of modern cellphones. If you look at it up close, it may not look extremely sophisticated but it did have one very prominent feature that almost every smartphone has today, a touch sensitive screen.

https://goo.gl/images/QamWGn

It is truly incredible to examine not only how much smartphones have evolved in a matter of 23 years but the massive impact they have had on society in that amount of time. At the point Simon was released, people had different devices for every task from mathematical calculations, faxing, emailing, calling, and sending instant messages. Jump forward to the 2010’s and not only does the entire Western Hemisphere use smartphone technology, but the rest of the world continues to join a worldwide network of cell phone operators. We use our smartphones for every task mentioned and more, including the ability to roam the internet, all in a small enough package to fit inside our pockets. Today, in 2017, we can see multiple large technology-based brands competing in the cell phone market, especially Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Nokia, LG, and HTC. Even though IBM no longer deals with smartphone technology and has instead diverted its attention to bigger and better things, its influence on cell phone technology is still felt today. Nobody in 1994 could have ever predicted it, but the Simon would pave the way for smartphone development and help lead to a world where individuals carry everything they need in one, small, mobile device.

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https://goo.gl/images/47ZXaQ

Sources from Summon:

  1. http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&u=viva_vpi&id=GALE|CX2735802500&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon&authCount=1
  2. http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/docview/1553549097?pq-origsite=summon&http://search.proquest.com/technologycollection/
  3. http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/docview/853149072?pq-origsite=summon