Science Fair Scientific Journalism question could be
answered by some with a simple 'Yes'.
8 Highlands Intermediate student Jamie Fenton suggests it is not
a s simple as it may seem...
give an answer, one must first understand the question. What are
benefits? What are risks? What is it to outweigh? And most importantly,
what is science?
'Benefit'; comes from the Latin word
'bene' meaning 'well'. It basically means a profit or advantage of some
sort. A 'risk'; is a danger or hazard. To 'outweigh' something is to be
more important, or to compensate or balance something.
I have therefore
interpreted the question as asking whether we profit enough from
science to compensate for the dangers presented by it. But what is
According to the Collins Gem English Dictionary science
is the study of 'observed material facts'. That just means patterns,
What risks do they pose? How can simply
wondering and analysing cause any harm?
Perhaps science is not, after all, the cause of any
hazards; just the first step towards them. After
all, how can seeking knowledge present any dangers? I believe that it
is not the science in itself that is in question, but how we use the
knowledge gained by it.
The people who decide how we use scientific knowledge are in
governments and businesses. They are the ones who have control over the
top scientists, as David Bodanis gives examples of in his book, E=mc2. They are the ones who have the money,
resources and power to create things from the science done, whether or
not they are wise. This is called 'technology'. That is from where the
The only risk we are taking when we do science is the risk of the
resulting technological development will become a threat. For example,
the last thing Albert Einstein, a pacifist, wanted his equation, E=mc2
to be used for was warfare. But the fruits of his quest for knowledge
and understanding were used to make the world's deadliest weapon; the
Just after the Second World War two atomic bombs, which depended on
Einstein's equation, were dropped on Japan
by the United States.
Containing only 15 kilograms of uranium, they produced an explosion
equivalent to 10,000 tonnes of TNT. Thousands of innocent people - children
walking hand in hand with their mothers to school, people going about
their daily business - were killed in Hiroshima alone. The bomb
destroyed many kilometers of the city. The newer hydrogen bomb is even
The destruction that the bomb is intended to create, and the innocent
lives it was made to end, may not be the only things the bomb will
affect. Albert Einstein himself warned the American government of the
many dangers and uncertainties surrounding the hydrogen bomb, including
the radioactivity damaging the atmosphere.
Perhaps our natural curiosity of the world we live in will kill us all
in the end. Perhaps there is one great risk that has gone unaccounted
for in all humanities years of existence. Can any profits, big or
small, be more important than, or enable us to overlook, one terrible
danger, still unknown to us?
If we continue to repeatedly misuse the privilege that is science,
surely we will massacre ourselves out of our stupidity and selfishness!
Surely it would be worth giving up innocent science and our wondering
and measuring and predicting as the cost of the entire human race, the
sentient creatures of the Earth and, perhaps, the Universe! It would,
perhaps, be better to live without science, and therefore without any
technology. There would be no need for compensation if there were no
But isn't the ability to measure, wonder, and predict called
intelligence? And isn't intelligence the essence of human-kind?
Wouldn't losing that be the greatest risk of all? If
we did live in primitiveness without questioning anything, true, there
would be no deadly consequences of our toil threatening us with
extinction, and the threat of destroying our race through physical
means would be gone. But if we were to completely ignore the part of
our minds where science forms, it would shut off completely; turning us
into nothing more than un-intelligent beasts, and humanity would be
Science ought not to be blamed for the tom-foolery of
those who have power over technology. Those who care for humanity will
embrace science, not blame it. Science is the essence of humanity.