Science in the Service of Man
Science has rendered a great service to man by exposing the hollowness of several superstitious beliefs and myths, which stifled man’s onward march to progress. Illness was attributed to sorcery, failure of crops -to-angry gods or malignant demons. Human sacrifice was thought to promote victory in war and the fertility of the soil. Eclipses and comets were held to presage disasters. The venerable Bede asserted that “comets portend revolutions of -kingdoms, pestilence, war, winds or heat”. It was Newton and Halley who explained the appearances of comets scientifically. James I was a fanatical persecutor of witches. Even Francis Bacon believed in them. Scientific medicine had to combat superstitions. When Vesalius first practiced dissection of corpses, the Church was horrified. The Emperor Charles V saved him from persecution for a time. On his death, Vesalius was accused of cutting people up before they were dead. He was asked to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On the way he was shipwrecked and died of exposure. Insanity was thought to be due to possession by evil spirits and was therefore treated by subjecting the insane to cruelties which, it was hoped, the demons would dislike. George III, when mad, was treated on this principle. It is hardly till the time of Lister, and Pasteur that medicine can be said ‘to have become scientific.
As a result of quick means of transport and communication, the world has shrunk. Now we can go to London or New York in a few hours. The telegraph, telephone, radio and television have made communication quick and easy. No country is now an island.
Electricity helps us in many ways. For this we are greatly indebted to Faraday. It helps to make ice and cold drinks and enables us to get up-to-date news every day. It makes the film move and thus gives us so much pleasure when we go to cinema. It is used for broadcasting and many other purposes. In fact, we cannot think of modem life without the blessings of electricity.
Science has made great progress in the field of medicine and surgery. Drugs like penicillin have conquered several diseases. We can now prevent the attack of some diseases by prophylaxis. X-ray, antiseptic surgery and anesthesia have revolutionized surgery. Japanese doctors have, succeeded in making synthetic blood. And, death rate has considerably been reduced.
Agricultural production has increased. We have now intensive methods of cultivation. Tractors, pump sets, new varieties of seeds, and fertilizers, etc. have revolutionized agriculture. In Japan they have hydroponics. Khushwant Singh says everything relating to this has been mechanized. They produce crops round the year, in and out of season.
Good progress has been achieved in the field of industry. The goods required by man are now manufactured expeditiously. The machines invented by scientists have reduced human drudgery in factories.
Nuclear research has made commendable progress. Nuclear power stations now produce electricity in several countries. One pound of uranium is the power equivalent of 2,300,000 pounds of coal. With the help of nuclear energy, brain cancer and tumours can be cured in their initial stages. Radio isotopes are useful to the farmer. Engine wear and lubricant efficiency are also quickly determined by the use of radio isotopes.
Science has helped in disseminating knowledge. The printing press has created a revolution in the field of knowledge. Many newspapers, magazines and books are published. Now man gets knowledge from everywhere.
Science assists in detecting crimes. Dactylography, polygraph and computers do a very good service in this field.
The scientists must realize their responsibility to mankind. The knowledge they have gained must be used only for constructive purpose. If they act in accordance with the whims and fancies of politicians, the future of mankind will be dark.