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How Did Science and Technology Start?

Applied science and technology have always been associated with craftsmen’s practice. Historically, science has been the province of aristocrats and those employed by plutocrats. However, in the early modern age, technology began to emerge without the help of pure science. The steam engine that triggered the Industrial Revolution, for example, was a result of the common sense and practical experience of craftsmen and engineers. While it relied on the laws of thermology and chemistry, this technique didn’t emerge as a science until the early 1800s.

Critical thinking became a major focus in the 1960s, and Thomas Kuhn, a philosopher of science and technology, led many scientists to begin probing the connections between scientific discoveries and social developments. Today, STS is an interdisciplinary field involving the history, philosophy, and practices of science and technology. It also covers such fields as science and religion, and its impact on societies. And, of course, there are many other areas of STS to explore.

The institutionalization of science has long been associated with political power. Scientists demand support and protection from political power in return for useful results. Institutionalization has varied by national context, but in France, Louis XIV’s minister Colbert founded the Acadmie Royale des Sciences. Academia members received salaries and state treasury money to conduct experiments. Some governments paid foreign scholars astronomical salaries.

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