Science is part of almost every aspect of our lives. Although we rarely think about it, science makes extraordinary things possible. At the flick of a switch, we have light and electricity. When we are ill, science helps us get better. It tells us about the past, helps us with the present, and creates ways to improve our future. Scientific endeavour is as much about us as it is for us. Its place in society, therefore, is not to unfold quietly at the sidelines but to become a fundamental part of the game. Now more than ever, science must engage with us, and we must engage with science.
With the pace that the world keeps and the speed with which technology advances, an understanding of science is a crucial part of a rounded education.
Societies have changed over time, and consequently, so has science. For example, during the first half of the 20th century, when the world was enmeshed in war, governments made funds available for scientists to pursue research with wartime applications — and so science progressed in that direction, unlocking the mysteries of nuclear energy.
At other times, market forces have led to scientific advances. For example, modern corporations looking for income through medical treatment, drug production, and agriculture, have increasingly devoted resources to biotechnology research, yielding breakthroughs in genomic sequencing and genetic engineering. And on the flipside, modern foundations funded by the financial success of individuals may invest their money in ventures that they deem to be socially responsible, encouraging research on topics like renewable energy technologies. Science is not static; it changes over time, reflecting shifts in the larger societies in which it is embedded.