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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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A diagram of one shale oil extraction process
Shale oil extraction is an industrial process for unconventional oil production. This process converts kerogen in oil shale into shale oil by pyrolysis, hydrogenation, or thermal dissolution. The resultant shale oil is used as fuel oil or upgraded to meet refinery feedstock specifications by adding hydrogen and removing sulfur and nitrogen impurities. Shale oil extraction is usually performed above ground (ex situ processing) by mining the oil shale and then treating it in processing facilities. Other modern technologies perform the processing underground (on-site or in situ processing) by applying heat and extracting the oil via oil wells. The earliest description of the process dates to the 10th century. The industry shrank in the mid-20th century following the discovery of large reserves of conventional oil, but high petroleum prices at the beginning of the 21st century have led to renewed interest. As of 2010, major long-standing extraction industries are operating in Estonia, Brazil, and China. Its economic viability varies with the ratio of local energy input costs to energy output value. National energy security issues have also played a role in its development. Critics of shale oil extraction pose questions about environmental management issues, such as waste disposal, extensive water use and waste water management, and air pollution.

In this month

The Trinity nuclear test, 16ms after detonation

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Alfonse D'Amato

Featured biography

Sophie Blanchard
Sophie Blanchard was a French aeronaut. The widow of ballooning pioneer Jean-Pierre Blanchard, she was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist. Though nervous on the ground, she was a fearless aeronaut and after her husband's death she continued ballooning, making more than 60 ascents. Known throughout Europe for her ballooning exploits, she entertained Napoleon Bonaparte, who promoted her to the role of "Aeronaut of the Official Festivals", replacing André-Jacques Garnerin. On the restoration of the monarchy in 1814 she performed for Louis XVIII, who named her "Official Aeronaut of the Restoration". Ballooning was a risky business for the pioneers. Blanchard lost consciousness on a couple of occasions, endured freezing temperatures and almost drowned when her balloon crashed in a marsh. In 1819 she became the first woman to be killed in an aviation accident when, during an exhibition in the Tivoli Gardens in Paris, she launched fireworks that ignited the gas in her balloon. Her craft crashed on the roof of a house and she fell to her death.


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Mike Godwin
Mike Godwin, (1994)

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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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