A steam turbine
with the case opened. Such turbines produce most of the electricity used today. Electricity consumption and living standards are highly correlated. Electrification is believed to be the most important engineering achievement of the 20th century.
Technology ("science of craft", from Greek τέχνη, techne, "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and -λογία, -logia) is the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation. Technology can be the knowledge of techniques, processes, and the like, or it can be embedded in machines to allow for operation without detailed knowledge of their workings.
The simplest form of technology is the development and use of basic tools. The prehistoric discovery of how to control fire and the later Neolithic Revolution increased the available sources of food, and the invention of the wheel helped humans to travel in and control their environment. Developments in historic times, 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.
Technology has many effects. It 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 Earth's environment. Innovations have always influenced the values of a society and raised new questions of the ethics of technology. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity, and the challenges of bioethics.
Philosophical debates have arisen over the use of technology, with disagreements over whether technology improves the human condition or worsens it. Neo-Luddism, anarcho-primitivism, and similar reactionary movements criticize the pervasiveness of technology, arguing 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.
In this month
Did you know...
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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