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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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Talbot effect
The Talbot effect is a near-field diffraction effect first observed in 1836 by Henry Fox Talbot. When a plane wave is incident upon a periodic diffraction grating, the image of the grating is repeated at regular distances away from the grating plane. The regular distance is called the Talbot length, and the repeated images are called self images or Talbot images. Furthermore, at half the Talbot length, a self image also occurs, but phase-shifted by half a period (the physical meaning of this is that it is laterally shifted by half the width of the grating period). At smaller regular fractions of the Talbot length, sub-images can also be observed. At one quarter of the Talbot length, the self image is halved in size, and appears with half the period of the grating (thus twice as many images are seen). At one eighth of the Talbot length, the period and size of the images is halved again, and so forth creating a fractal pattern of sub images with ever decreasing size, often referred to as a Talbot carpet.

In this month

The Trinity nuclear test, 16ms after detonation

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Fraunhofer Society

Featured biography

John Douglas
John Douglas (1830–1911) was an English architect who designed about 500 buildings in Cheshire, North Wales and northwest England, in particular in the estate of Eaton Hall. Douglas' output included the creation, restoration and renovation of churches, church furnishings, houses and other buildings. His architectural styles were eclectic and many of his works incorporate elements of the English Gothic style. He was also influenced by architectural styles from the mainland of Europe and included elements of French, German and Netherlandish architecture into his works. He is remembered for his use of half-timbering, tile-hanging, pargeting, decorative brick in diapering and the design of tall chimney stacks. Of particular importance is Douglas' use of joinery and highly detailed wood carving. Throughout his career he attracted commissions from wealthy landowners and industrialists. Most of his works have survived. The city of Chester contains a number of his structures, the most admired of which are his half-timbered black-and-white buildings and Eastgate Clock. The highest concentration of his work is found in the Eaton Hall estate and the surrounding villages of Eccleston, Aldford and Pulford.


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Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock, interview with Peter Bogdanovich (1963)

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Credit: Andrew Dunn

An astrolabe is an elaborate inclinometer, historically used by astronomers, navigators, and astrologers for predicting the position of celestial bodies, triangulation, and to cast horoscopes.


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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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