Physics, Technology and Society
Technology is the application of the doctrines in physics for practical purposes. The invention of steam engine had a great impact on human civilization. Till 1933, Rutherford did not believe that energy could be tapped from atoms. But in 1938, Hann and Meitner discovered neutron-induced fission reaction of uranium. This is the basis of nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors. The contribution of physics in the development of alternative resources of energy is significant. We are consuming the fossil fuels at such a very fast rate that there is an urgent need to discover new sources of energy which are cheap. Production of electricity from solar energy and geothermal energy is a reality now, but we have a long way to go. Another example of physics giving rise to technology is the integrated chip, popularly called as IC. The development of newer ICs and faster processors made the computer industry to grow leaps and bounds in the last two decades. Computers have become affordable now due to improved production techniques and low production costs.
The legitimate purpose of technology is to serve poeple. Our society is becoming more and more science-oriented. We can become better members of society if we develop an understanding of the basic laws of physics.
JPL's charter is to conduct robotic space missions for NASA, to explore our own and neighboring planetary systems, understand the origin and evolution of the universe and make critical measurements to understand our home planet and help protect it. We do this by developing integrated capabilities in engineering, science and technology, in a unique environment that strives for excellence in any of the three areas. To be successful in our ability to implement missions for NASA, we foster research in those areas of space-based science that establish our leadership in the science community and those technologies that allow the innovations that are crucial to maintaining our competitive edge. Our science, technology and engineering research covers many areas of planetary, astrophysics and Earth science, both as basic research leading to new observations and mission concepts, as well as research based on the data acquired by JPL flight projects. Our technology research covers areas ranging from robotic systems, a range of in-situ and remote sensing instruments, deep space communications and navigation, information systems, precision flying and planetary protection and survivability.