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The Technology Portal

Technology is the practical use of science, including the making, modification or improvement, applied activity or behavior, use and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, methods of organization, or environmental modifications or arrangement in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, modifications, environmental arrangement and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species' ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The word technology comes from Greek τεχνολογία (technología); from τέχνη (téchnē), meaning 'art, skill, craft', and -λογία (-logía), meaning 'study of-'. The term can be applied either generally or to many specific areas, examples of which include construction technology, medical technology and information technology.

The human species' use of technology began with the conversion of natural resources into simple tools. The prehistorical discovery of the ability to control fire increased the available sources of food and the invention of the wheel helped humans in travelling in and controlling their environment. Recent technological developments, 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. However, not all technology has been used for peaceful purposes; the development of weapons of ever-increasing destructive power has progressed throughout history, from clubs to nuclear weapons.

Technology has affected society and its surroundings in a number of ways. In many societies, technology 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 the Earth and its environment. Various implementations of technology influence the values of a society and new technology often raises new ethical questions. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity, a term originally applied only to machines, and the challenge of traditional norms.

Philosophical debates have arisen over the present and future use of technology in society, with disagreements over whether technology improves the human condition or worsens it. Neo-Luddism, anarcho-primitivism, and similar movements criticise the pervasiveness of technology in the modern world, opining 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. Indeed, until recently, it was believed that the development of technology was restricted only to human beings, but recent scientific studies indicate that other primates and certain dolphin communities have developed simple tools and learned to pass their knowledge to other generations.

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Science and technology of the Han Dynasty
The Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) of ancient China, divided between the eras of Western Han (206 BCE – 9 CE, when the capital was at Chang'an), Xin dynasty of Wang Mang (r. 9–23 CE), and Eastern Han (25–220 CE, when the capital was at Luoyang, and after 196 CE at Xuchang), witnessed some of the most significant advancements in premodern Chinese science and technology. There were great innovations in metallurgy. In addition to Zhou-dynasty China's (c. 1050 BCE – 256 BCE) previous inventions of the blast furnace and cupola furnace to make pig iron and cast iron, respectively, the Han period saw the development of steel and wrought iron by use of the finery forge and puddling process. With the drilling of deep boreholes into the earth, the Chinese used not only derricks to lift brine up to the surface to be boiled into salt, but also set up bamboo-crafted pipeline transport systems which brought natural gas as fuel to the furnaces. Smelting techniques were enhanced with inventions such as the waterwheel-powered bellows; the resulting widespread distribution of iron tools facilitated the growth of agriculture. For tilling the soil and planting straight rows of crops, the improved heavy-moldboard plough with three iron plowshares and sturdy multiple-tube iron seed drill were invented in the Han, which greatly enhanced production yields and thus sustained population growth. The method of supplying irrigation ditches with water was improved with the invention of the mechanical chain pump powered by the rotation of a waterwheel or draft animals, which could transport irrigation water up elevated terrains. The waterwheel was also used for operating trip hammers in pounding grain and in rotating the metal rings of the mechanical-driven astronomical armillary sphere representing the celestial sphere around the Earth.

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One of the two identical Voyager probes

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Village of Denshaw

Featured biography

Joseph Francis Shea
Joseph Francis Shea (1926–1999) was an aerospace engineer and NASA manager. Born in the Bronx, New York, he was educated at the University of Michigan, receiving a Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics in 1955. After working for Bell Labs on the radio inertial guidance system of the Titan I intercontinental ballistic missile, he was hired by NASA in 1961. As Deputy Director of NASA's Office of Manned Space Flight, and later as head of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, Shea played a key role in shaping the course of the Apollo program, helping to lead NASA to the decision in favor of lunar orbit rendezvous and supporting "all up" testing of the Saturn V rocket. While sometimes causing controversy within the agency, Shea was remembered by his former colleague George Mueller as "one of the greatest systems engineers of our time". Deeply involved in the investigation of the Apollo 1 fire, Shea suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of the stress that he suffered. He was removed from his position and left NASA shortly afterwards. From 1968 until 1990 he worked as a senior manager at Raytheon in Lexington, Massachusetts, and thereafter became an adjunct professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. While Shea served as a consultant for NASA on the redesign of the International Space Station in 1993, he was forced to resign from the position due to health issues.


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The Golden Gate Bridge with the city of San Francisco in the background
Silas Bent, Machine Made Man (1930)

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NASA Mars Rover.jpg
Credit: Maas Digital LLC

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Mission (MER) is an ongoing robotic space mission involving two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, exploring the planet Mars.


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Technological concepts and issues – Appropriate technology • Clean technology • Diffusion of innovations in science • Doomsday device • Ecotechnology • Environmental technology • High technology • History of science and technology • History of technology • Industry • Innovation • Knowledge economy • Persuasion technology • Pollution • Posthumanism • Precautionary principle • Research and development • Science, technology, and society • Strategy of technology • Superpowers • Sustainable technology • Technocapitalism • Technocriticism • Techno-progressivism • Technological convergence • Technological evolution • Technological determinism • Technological diffusion • Technological singularity • Technology acceptance model • Technology assessment • Technology lifecycle • Technology transfer • Technology Tree • Technorealism • Timeline of invention • Transhumanism

Technologies and applied sciences – Aerospace • Agriculture, Agricultural science & Agronomy • Architecture • Artificial intelligence • Automation • Automobile • Big Science • Biotechnology • Cartography • Chemical engineering • Communication • Computing (Computer science, List of open problems in computer science, Programming, Software engineering, Information technology, Computer engineering) • Construction • Design • Electronics • Energy development • Energy storage • Engineering • Ergonomics • Firefighting • Forensics • Forestry • Free software • Health sciences • Health Informatics • Industry • Information science • Internet • Library and information science • Machines • Management • Manufacturing • Mass communication • Mass production • Medicine (Unsolved problems in neuroscience) • Military science • Military technology and equipment • Mining • Nanotechnology • Nuclear technology • Packaging and labeling • Processes • Robotics • Space exploration • Technology forecasting • Telecommunications • Tools • Transport • Vehicles • Weapons


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