untreatable. Basic insights in materials science enable the development of structures that are lighter, stronger, and more durable than anything available before. The computer and novel modes of communication, such as optical fibers, bring new, interactive modes of work and more capable machinery. These new devices and new ways of working, in turn, speed the growth and dissemination of new knowledge.
The accumulation of scientific knowledge and new technologies has transformed human life. echnologies have helped provide many—though far from all—people with standards of warmth, cleanliness, nutrition, medical care, transportation, and entertainment far beyond those of even the wealthy two centuries ago. 1 They have also presented us with difficult questions about how to use science and technology most effectively to meet human needs.
The rapid rate of material progress can continue, but it is not inevitable. The extent to which the products of science and technology are useful depends on the needs of society. Each of the four areas discussed in this chapter—industrial performance, health care, national security, and environmental protection—uses these products in different ways. Progress is more likely if we understand these differences. Only then can we effectively translate scientific and technical understanding into the techniques, tools, and insights that improve the quality of our lives.
Industries differ in the manner and extent to which they use the results of research. Some, such as the semiconductor industry, the biotechnology industry, and parts of the chemical industry, were created and shaped almost entirely by ideas that grew out of science. The technologies at the heart of these industries were initially characterized more by promise than by real products. Semiconductors were in this stage right after the invention of the transistor; more recently, biotechnology went through