How Science Has Changed Society

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  • 1:07 Medical Advances
  • 2:08 Chemistry and Society
  • 3:00 Food Sciences
  • 3:55 Social Sciences
  • 5:10 Space Travel
  • 5:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

Without science, our modern world just wouldn't be the same. The way we travel, shop, learn, socialize, eat, work, and play is possible because of scientific influences and innovations. Take a look around, and you'll see science pretty much everywhere!

Science Is Everywhere

When you think of the word 'science' do you automatically picture someone mixing chemicals in a lab or looking through a telescope at the night sky? These are certainly activities that scientists participate in, but science is so much more than this!

From the Latin for 'knowledge,' science actually refers to many different fields - biology, chemistry, and physics are a few of them but so are sociology, psychology, and anthropology! There are life sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, food sciences, agricultural sciences. . . the list goes on and on and on.

As you can see, you are surrounded by science every day. Engineers designed those smart phones you use to text your friends, agronomists study the soil that your vegetables grow in, and doctors run tests to diagnose illnesses or pains that you may have. And because science is ingrained in our everyday lives in so many ways, you can probably imagine that it has substantial impacts on our lives and cultures.

Medical Advances

Probably one of the easiest ways to see how science has impacted people around the world is in the medical field. We are now living longer than ever thanks to a greater understanding of how our bodies function and interact with our environment.

Vaccines have been instrumental in nearly eradicating dangerous diseases, like polio, smallpox, and measles. People who lose arms and legs can now live normal lives through the use of prosthetic limbs. We can screen people for cancer and catch it in early stages, which has saved countless lives. Life-saving organ transplants are now a common practice but were once something that doctors could only dream of doing.

These are just a few ways in which the medical field has helped society, but I'm sure you can think of many others that aren't quite as dramatic - band-aids, over-the-counter cold medicines, sunscreens, toothpaste, and even dietary guidelines are all tied to the medical field and keeping our bodies healthy.

Chemistry and Society

Chemistry has arguably had some of the greatest impacts on society for quite some time. Before refrigerators, common ways of preserving food involved fermentation and canning, both of which involve knowledge of chemical reactions.

From the fuel that fills their tanks to the metals and plastics they are built from, vehicles such as cars, boats, and airplanes are chock-full of chemical innovations. Chemists are also currently producing more fuel-efficient vehicles and cleaner fuels, meaning they are cheaper and cleaner for us to drive.

Today, if you want to go visit family in another state you don't think much about it - you get in your car, hop on a plane, or catch a ride on a bus. We now travel freely and widely across, not just states, but the entire world, something that was only made possible through science.

Food Sciences

Our modern foods look much different than the foods our ancestors ate! Not only can we store food on shelves for many years, but we have also modified food crops so that they do not even remotely resemble their original forms.

Corn is a great example of this - modern corn has large, juicy kernels that you can easily chomp down on. But corn originated from a plant called teosinte, which was smaller, had tiny kernels, and tasted totally different than what we now throw on the grill and butter up.

If you eat meat, that too is a modern marvel. Our ancestors couldn't just run to the grocery store to buy a chicken for dinner - they had to hunt down game with their own hands. Today, we have massive farms that produce food product animals, and these animals themselves have also been genetically guided throughout the years to be larger and quicker growing.

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