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Alas, Mankind, We Knew Him… - Destructive Science.

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Alas, Mankind, We Knew Him... - Destructive Science Science and technology have had a profound effect on society, particularly over the past century. We've seen massive increases in the supply of food, allowing the human population to grow to 6 billion; once-virulent diseases such as bubonic plague and smallpox all but conquered. And we've even managed to put a man on the Moon. If it were only consequences like those that resulted from our use of science and technology, this speech would end here. However, there is an additional set of effects. For a start, we have caused unprecedented damage to the environment: extinctions of animal and plant species are happening at a rate several hundred times greater than the natural level, whilst holes are appearing in the protective ozone layer around the earth. This is all due to our negligent use of science and technology. Our scientific advances are testimony to the intelligence of man, and we have achieved a great deal. ...read more.


The same question was on everyone's lips: 'What have we done? What have we done?' The answer emerged soon afterwards when atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Up to 214,000 people were killed, not including those who died later from radiation. Warfare had entered a new and more terrifying age. Einstein was highly critical of the decision to use the bomb. His letter was prompted by his belief that 'the enemies of mankind' were developing an atomic bomb, and that the only deterrent was for America to make one first. He later said: 'If I had known that the Germans would not succeed in constructing the bomb, I would never have lifted a finger.' Einstein believed that although Roosevelt might sanction the development of a bomb as a deterrent, he would never agree to its use. Einstein wrote to him, enclosing a strong warning against using the atomic bomb. But the letter was still unopened on Roosevelt's desk when he died. ...read more.


An ivory-tower mentality was perhaps tenable in the past when the times of a scientific finding and its practical application were well separated. However, the tremendous advances in science during the 20th Century have made it a dominant element in our lives, bringing enormous improvements to the quality of life, but it has also created grave perils. Above all, science has produced a threat to the very existence of the human species through the development of weapons of mass destruction. Many scientists maintain that there is a distinction between pure and applied science; that it is the application of science that can be harmful, not the study, and Einstein understood this, saying: 'We must not condemn man because his inventiveness and patient conquest of the forces of nature are exploited for false and destructive purposes.' The price of progress must be eternal vigilance. As Einstein said, our fate depends entirely on our sense of morality. After the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, someone said that it was the tragedy of scientists that their discoveries were used for destruction. It's not the tragedy of scientists. It's the tragedy of mankind. Jo Harris 10Bg 01/05/2007 Page 1 of 2 ...read more.

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