By Aditya Mani:
Are we there yet?
No, this is not the story of a whiny and impatient 5 year old pestering his parent on a long road trip. This is the story of an even more impatient and whinier man trying to surpass his own expectations and knowledge in an attempt to bridge the gap between the tangible and the intangible. This is the story of the evolution of the instinct and intuition-depending man into a man who relies heavily on logic and reason. If anything or anyone has to take credit for this, it has to be science; and not just the chemical equations or the physical theories often seen in textbooks, but the ability to observe, learn and understand nature and all that goes into making it a big mystery.
Man’s earliest foray into the world of science was the discovery of fire and the subsequent realisation that fire is not one to be feared but harnessed. And eventually, as man grew intellectually, man metamorphosed into a civilised being replete with a society built on his own understanding of the natural world. Disparate civilizations all over the world began making their own breakthroughs in natural and formal sciences. But it was in the renaissance period in late 17th century Europe that seeds of ‘modern science’ were sown, with the harbingers being Aristotle, Galileo and Newton.Â This period will be remembered for not only the immense contributions made by these men, but also for the departure of scientific thought from religion.
Ever since, the technological progress made by man has been unprecedented, which is very well illustrated by the industrial revolution in the early 20th century and especially by the computer revolution at the turn of the century. But, everything comes at a price and our advancements in science have started proving a bit out of budget for us. With natural resources depleting at an exponential rate and the deterioration of the earth as we know it, an apocalyptic fate isn’t that hard to imagine. Albert Einstein had once quoted that,Â “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” And humanity has been playing catch up without much success.
Man has always wanted to emancipate mankind from the clutches of epidemics and fatal medical conditions. Although certain previously dreaded diseases are easily prevented today, thousands of people around the world still die from malaria, tuberculosis and HIV because science was too busy to reach them. Are we there yet?
One of the major objectives of any human society would be to ensure peace and harmony; and man to that effect, built specialized weapons and armaments to ward off the evil eye. Unfortunately, arms’ trafficking has only further reinforced the stance of terrorist outfits, resulting in massive losses of human lives and property. Are we there yet?
Man is a social animal and beginning with the telephone he found numerous ways to stay close to loved ones even while being spatially disparate. However, widespread availability of such systems has been credited for infringement of privacy, bouts of adolescent depression and suicides and threats to national securities. Are we there yet?
Frank Lloyd Wright has very rightly stated, “If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger.” Man has learnt to entertain himself. Video game consoles and satellite television rule the roost. The rate of childhood obesity is fast increasing and by the looks of it, social interaction will soon become an ancient custom. Are we there yet?
Only time can now tell whether man finally reaches his destination safely or whether he arrives only to find himself in perdition.