Science, Technology, and Society: An Encyclopedia

Science, Technology, and Society: An Encyclopedia

Science, Technology, and Society: An Encyclopedia

Science, Technology, and Society: An Encyclopedia

Synopsis

Emphasizing an interdisciplinary and international coverage of the functions and effects of science and technology in society and culture, Science, Technology, and Society contains over 130 A to Z signed articles written by major scholars and experts from academic and scientific institutions and institutes worldwide. Each article is accompanied by a selected bibliography. Other features include extensive cross referencing throughout, a directory of contributors, and an extensive topical index.

Excerpt

The influence of chemistry and biology can be found throughout the world around us. All activities involving naturally occurring processes, from food production to animal husbandry to protection of the environment, rely on knowledge of biology. In medicine, biology is essential in the analysis of disease, preparation of vaccines, and understanding of genetics and birth defects. Chemistry is similarly omnipresent and is necessary for everything from the manufacturing of silicon chips used in computers to the synthesis of drugs for conditions ranging from high blood pressure to erectile dysfunction. In fact, every synthetic product that drives our culture of consumption, such as gasoline, plastics, cosmetics, paints, dyes, and medications, comes from chemical processes and is informed by knowledge of chemistry.

There is an increasing amount of public awareness about chemistry and biology, Information from these sciences is often reported by the news media (for example, forensic data in celebrity trials) and often figures in detective or medical novels, TV shows, and movies. This increased awareness has also created an increased level of scrutiny. Whereas worries about chemistry are about the same today as they were in the 1960s, involving concerns about pesticides, environmental toxins, and chemical warfare, the same cannot be said for biology. Advances in biology have raised new moral and pragmatic questions about cloning, transgenic plants and animals, and antibodies in foods, causing a great deal of concern in the public sphere. As legal and ethical regulations fall behind the pace of scientific progress, the research itself has become immersed in a level of politics that would have seemed impossible even twenty years earlier. We now have presidential candidates weighing in on whether they think stem cell research is a good idea, as government and the general population try to decide the course of scientific advances.

In order to understand the true impact of chemistry and biology on our lives, we must understand how the research in these fields gets done and thus how the discourse in these fields has been shaped. To do so we must look at the ways in which these fields are structured, funded, and operated.

The Institutional Structures of the
Chemical and Biological Sciences

Chemistry has been divided into the fields of physical, organic, inorganic, and analytical chemistry for a hundred years and still uses these distinctions, with the addition of the field of biochemistry in the last fifty years. Biochemistry has meanwhile grown into a distinct discipline in its own right. Biology has evolved from botany, zoology, physiology, microbiology, animal behavior, ecology, and evolutionary biology to include the very active and important fields of genetics, enzymology, virology, cell biology, bioinformatics, neurobiology, developmental biology, and immunology. These new fields in biology rely heavily on chemistry and biochemistry as well as biology proper for the tools needed for research. Whereas every chemistry department will have the fields just listed, these different fields in biology may well have their own departments at different sites in the university.

Biochemistry has become a central science to both chemistry and biology. It is very hard . . .

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