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June 6th, 2013

foucault science_vs_tech01You don’t have to go “full tilt Foucault” to believe that words have great power, and when wrought and wielded in certain ways can utterly fail in their assigned tasks to explain and enlighten. We face that situation today with the words “science” and “technology”—two words often used quite interchangeably, even in places where people should take some care (colleges, laboratories, the media). So what is the difference? Is a MacBook a scientific breakthrough or a technological construction? Both? Neither? Something else entirely? Since it actually does matter, and will provide a foundation for further (real) understanding, let’s take about 500 words and a few minutes to go over some things.

Basic definitions = clear distinctions

Science is a systematized, evolving body (or “base”) of knowledge. Within a particular field, one can trust that following a series of steps will result in the outcome predicted. As evidence accumulates, an initial “hypothesis” or testable proposition becomes a “theory” of explanatory and predictive power. The various pursuits of knowledge employing this methodology are what we know as “the sciences”—physics, biology, geography, chemistry, physics, and so on. Some 44 years’ worth of advances in computer science, for example, are represented by CRE’s basic computer rental that’s thousands of times more powerful than the primitive contraption that took Americans to the moon in 1969.

Technology is another thing altogether, the application of knowledge (or science) to problem-solving and service provision, primarily via manmade tools and devices. If we allow that science is the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, for the evolving knowledge base, then technology is the practical application of that knowledge to meet people’s needs and solve their problems. Energy science would lead to such technologies as solar panels, for instance, as well as other products built to use the supplied energy most efficiently for, say, light, heat, or power for the MacBook Pro rental you’re taking camping. Science explains, technology performs.

Technology Collage

Aesthetics vs. theories

Science has analysis in mind, following which come generalizations, then the crafting of theories. Experiments are a way of controlling and defining discoveries, so excellence in science requires creativity, logical thinking, and the usual “x factor” that eludes definition, like Steve Jobs’ star quality and that of his game-changing iMac invention. And technology? It brings design to the mix, as well as invention, production, process, construction, testing and measurement, quality control, and synthesis—thus possibly beginning the cycle again with new ideas, even new science, then developing even newer technology, and on and on.

To summarize:

  • Science studies specific subjects, technology applies what is learned.
  • Science analyzes the data, technology synthesizes a design.
  • Science is theory, technology is process.

It’s really quite practical and sensible, this “science vs. technology” lesson, as they both conspire to do us good at every turn even when we misuse them for ill. When the human imagination conjures up positive new ideas to replace the old (like this, for instance), great things happen in science and technology.

For first-rate event production rentals and the hard-to-find post-production gear you need right now, great things happen with CRE. A call to (877) 266-7725 or a message will lead to the best possible answers to your unique challenges. If you know what you need, our Quick Rental Quote form is your ticket to an even swifter solution. When you’re ready, we’re here—tomorrow, tonight, and right now, too.

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