A steam turbine
with the case opened. Such turbines produce most of the electricity used today. Electricity consumption and living standards are highly correlated. Electrification is believed to be the most important engineering achievement of the 20th century.
Technology ("science of craft", from Greek τέχνη, techne, "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and -λογία, -logia) is the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation. Technology can be the knowledge of techniques, processes, and the like, or it can be embedded in machines to allow for operation without detailed knowledge of their workings.
The simplest form of technology is the development and use of basic tools. The prehistoric discovery of how to control fire and the later Neolithic Revolution increased the available sources of food, and the invention of the wheel helped humans to travel in and control their environment. Developments in historic times, 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.
Technology has many effects. It 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 Earth's environment. Innovations have always influenced the values of a society and raised new questions of the ethics of technology. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity, and the challenges of bioethics.
Philosophical debates have arisen over the use of technology, with disagreements over whether technology improves the human condition or worsens it. Neo-Luddism, anarcho-primitivism, and similar reactionary movements criticize the pervasiveness of technology, arguing 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.
is a distributed computing
project for disease research that simulates protein folding
, computational drug design
, and other types of molecular dynamics
. The project is powered by the idle processing resources
of thousands of personal computers
owned by volunteers who have installed the software on their systems. Its primary purpose is to determine the mechanisms of protein folding, which is the process by which proteins
reach their final three-dimensional structure
, and to examine the causes of protein misfolding
. This is of significant academic interest with major implications for medical research
into Alzheimer's disease
, Huntington's disease
, and many forms of cancer
, among other diseases. Folding@home is developed and operated by the Pande laboratory at Stanford University
, under the direction of Vijay Pande
. It is shared by various scientific institutions and research laboratories across the world. The project has pioneered the use of GPUs
, PlayStation 3s
, and Message Passing Interface
for distributed computing and scientific research. Folding@home is one of the world's fastest computing systems. Since its launch in 2000, it has assisted over 100 scientific research papers
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Did you know...
was a pioneering American
scientist and one of the world's most distinguished cytogeneticists
. McClintock received her PhD
from Cornell University
in 1927, where she was a leader in the development of maize
cytogenetics; the field remained the focus of her research for the rest of her career. Her work was groundbreaking: she developed the technique to visualize maize chromosomes and used microscopic analysis to demonstrate many fundamental genetic concepts, including genetic recombination
—a mechanism by which chromosomes exchange information. She produced the first genetic map for maize, linking regions of the chromosome with physical traits, and she demonstrated the role of the telomere
, regions of the chromosome that are important in the conservation of genetic information. During the 1940s and 1950s, McClintock discovered transposition and using this system showed how genes
are responsible for turning on or off physical characteristics. Awards and recognition of her contributions to the field followed, including the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
awarded to her in 1983 for the discovery of genetic transposition
; she was the first and only woman to receive an unshared Nobel Prize in that category.
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