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‘Where Is Science Taking Us?’ is a Broadcast Talk from ADELAIDE, Australia. Delivered by one of its famous broadcasters, Dr. S. W. Pennycuick, it deals with science and how far it is good for mankind.
About the Author:
Dr. S. W. Pennycuick was a Lecturer in Physical Chemistry at the University of Adelaide. In addition, he was also a notable broadcaster for the A.B.C (Australia’s first radio Adelaide). He was known for delivering popular scientific talks on Fridays at 8 pm EST for the same.
The theme of this text is science. Through his talk, Dr. S. W. Pennycuick addresses a thought-provoking question- ‘If the aim of science is the conquest of man’s environment, what should be its ultimate goal?’ Bit by bit, he leads the audience towards what he feels is its answer.
Where Is Science Taking Us?
The talk begins with Dr. S. W. Penncuick talking about how Man’s question of ‘What is the meaning of life?’ has shifted to ‘Where is Science taking us?’. He poses this question from an ethical and spiritual ground. He proceeds to answer his own question by stating that science does nothing at all, less than nothing in fact. The advent of science seems to be the extent where humanness seems to have been replaced by monotonous machinery.
Age of the Machine:
He goes on to call this as the age of the machine where nothing seems possible without machines, be it for everyday uses to war. These machines thus offer humans what Dr. Pennycuick calls to be ‘abnormal’ power. The resultant consequences of this seems to not be in control of science in itself for the very function of it, that is, to help humans, can not be found in instances such as, say, war. It could neither offer solutions for social problems nor help in reducing the gap between the rich and the poor. Science thus was creating far more problems than it could solve, thus narrowing its aims to two things: One is to material conquest of the human environment and the second is to unravel the mystery that is the human body. Both of these however fail to answer the original question of what life is.
Charity, Tolerance, and Forbearance:
Thus, what Dr. S. W. Pennycuick thinks the world needs in not more scientific discoveries but some charity, tolerance and forbearance from human beings. To focus on not just material but non-material things, he feels, is equally, if not more, essential. He goes on to muse that perhaps science might offer a solution for this in the upcoming years.
He concludes his talk by reverting back to the question he addressed in the beginning: Where is Science taking us? On hindsight, he feels that science, despite its many shortcomings, was definitely taking us somewhere. For it cannot be denied that science does add excitement, interest and intrigue to life.