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The Technology Portal

Technology is the practical use of science, including the making, modification or improvement, applied activity or behavior, use and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, methods of organization, or environmental modifications or arrangement in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, modifications, environmental arrangement and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species' ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The word technology comes from Greek τεχνολογία (technología); from τέχνη (téchnē), meaning 'art, skill, craft', and -λογία (-logía), meaning 'study of-'. The term can be applied either generally or to many specific areas, examples of which include construction technology, medical technology and information technology.

The human species' use of technology began with the conversion of natural resources into simple tools. The prehistorical discovery of the ability to control fire increased the available sources of food and the invention of the wheel helped humans in travelling in and controlling their environment. Recent technological developments, 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. However, not all technology has been used for peaceful purposes; the development of weapons of ever-increasing destructive power has progressed throughout history, from clubs to nuclear weapons.

Technology has affected society and its surroundings in a number of ways. In many societies, technology 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 the Earth and its environment. Various implementations of technology influence the values of a society and new technology often raises new ethical questions. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity, a term originally applied only to machines, and the challenge of traditional norms.

Philosophical debates have arisen over the present and future use of technology in society, with disagreements over whether technology improves the human condition or worsens it. Neo-Luddism, anarcho-primitivism, and similar movements criticise the pervasiveness of technology in the modern world, opining 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. Indeed, until recently, it was believed that the development of technology was restricted only to human beings, but recent scientific studies indicate that other primates and certain dolphin communities have developed simple tools and learned to pass their knowledge to other generations.

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Selected article

Water fluoridation
Water fluoridation is the controlled addition of fluoride to a public water supply to reduce tooth decay. Fluoridated water has fluoride at a level that is effective for preventing cavities; this can occur naturally or by adding fluoride. Fluoridated water operates on tooth surfaces: in the mouth it creates low levels of fluoride in saliva, which reduces the rate at which tooth enamel demineralizes and increases the rate at which it remineralizes in the early stages of cavities. Typically a fluoridated compound is added to drinking water, a process that in the U.S. costs an average of about $1.04 per person-year. Defluoridation is needed when the naturally occurring fluoride level exceeds recommended limits. A 1994 World Health Organization expert committee suggested a level of fluoride from 0.5 to 1.0 mg/L (milligrams per liter), depending on climate. Dental cavities remain a major public health concern in most industrialized countries, affecting 60–90% of schoolchildren and the vast majority of adults, and costing society more to treat than any other disease. Water fluoridation prevents cavities in both children and adults, with studies estimating an 18–40% reduction in cavities when water fluoridation is used by children who already have access to toothpaste and other sources of fluoride. There is no clear evidence of adverse effects other than dental fluorosis. It is controversial, and opposition to it has been based on ethical, legal, safety, and efficacy grounds.

In this month

The Trinity nuclear test, 16ms after detonation

Did you know...

The Italian submarine Barbarigo

Featured biography

I. M. Pei
I. M. Pei (born 1917) is a Chinese American architect, often called a master of modern architecture. Born in Guangzhou, in 1935 he moved to the United States. While enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he became unhappy with the school's focus on Beaux-Arts architecture, and spent his free time researching the emerging architects, especially Le Corbusier. After graduating, he joined the Harvard Graduate School of Design and formed a friendship with the Bauhaus architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. Pei spent ten years working with New York real estate magnate William Zeckendorf before establishing his own independent design firm that eventually became Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Among the early projects on which Pei took the lead were the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC, and the Green Building at MIT. His first major recognition came with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado; his new stature led to his selection as chief architect for the John F. Kennedy Library in Massachusetts. He went on to design Dallas City Hall and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. In the early 1980s, Pei was the focus of controversy when he designed a glass-and-steel pyramid for the Louvre museum in Paris. Pei has won a wide variety of prizes and awards in the field of architecture, including the 1983 Pritzker Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize of architecture.


Selected quote

Jane Harman
Jane Harman, "Introduction of the "Select Agent Program and Biosafety Improvement Act of 2008" (2008)

Selected picture

Telefon BW 2012-02-18 13-44-32.JPG
Credit: Berthold Werner

A telephone, or phone, is a telecommunications device that converts sound, typically the human voice, into electronic signals suitable for transmission via cables or other transmission media over long distances through satellite.


Technology categories

Main topics


Technological concepts and issues – Appropriate technology • Clean technology • Diffusion of innovations in science • Doomsday device • Ecotechnology • Environmental technology • High technology • History of science and technology • History of technology • Industry • Innovation • Knowledge economy • Persuasion technology • Pollution • Posthumanism • Precautionary principle • Research and development • Science, technology, and society • Strategy of technology • Superpowers • Sustainable technology • Technocapitalism • Technocriticism • Techno-progressivism • Technological convergence • Technological evolution • Technological determinism • Technological diffusion • Technological singularity • Technology acceptance model • Technology assessment • Technology lifecycle • Technology transfer • Technology Tree • Technorealism • Timeline of invention • Transhumanism

Technologies and applied sciences – Aerospace • Agriculture, Agricultural science & Agronomy • Architecture • Artificial intelligence • Automation • Automobile • Big Science • Biotechnology • Cartography • Chemical engineering • Communication • Computing (Computer science, List of open problems in computer science, Programming, Software engineering, Information technology, Computer engineering) • Construction • Design • Electronics • Energy development • Energy storage • Engineering • Ergonomics • Firefighting • Forensics • Forestry • Free software • Health sciences • Health Informatics • Industry • Information science • Internet • Library and information science • Machines • Management • Manufacturing • Mass communication • Mass production • Medicine (Unsolved problems in neuroscience) • Military science • Military technology and equipment • Mining • Nanotechnology • Nuclear technology • Packaging and labeling • Processes • Robotics • Space exploration • Technology forecasting • Telecommunications • Tools • Transport • Vehicles • Weapons


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