Of Science and Humanity

Science exists for humanity. However, Science can simultaneously exist against humanity. It is prudent to consider the fact that Science does not, inherently, exist for humanity, and that it is cardinal for humanity to decide if it will exist for us, or against us. I will expound on the core issue which is the relationship between Science and humanity by discussing how it may indeed, as postulated by the given statement, exist “for humanity”, but on the other hand, exist “against humanity”, in a paradoxical situation.

Science is understood as a tool which allows humanity, using methods like scientific inquiry and inductive reasoning, to understand and harness the natural environment to improve humanity itself. Through centuries, the accumulation of important concepts such as atom, molecule, equilibrium and many more since as early as 1000 B.C., has culminated in a vast expanse of knowledge which has made technologies like crude oil refinement and iron extraction possible now. Today, these concepts are applied daily, bringing about leaps in transportation and power generation. In 1905, Fritz Haber developed the Haber process which manufactured ammonia from its elements. Given that it produces more than 500 million tons of nitrogen fertilizer per year at current, this milestone in chemistry has profound implications on the agricultural industry. Furthermore, after the discovery of the immunosuppressant drug rapamycin by the pharmaceutical industry, many patients receive transplants with fewer complications from rejection; some even avoided death. There cannot be a soul who doubts the countless lives saved and others improved by Science. As such, we simply cannot imagine a life without Science, because of its vast contributions for the betterment of humanity.

Science paints a promising future for humanity. Because of scientific research, promising developments emerge which will mold the shape of our future. Just a few weeks ago, Spanish researchers are developing, through nanotechnology, a drug that combines photothermia and chemotherapy to fight cancer. The new drug comprises hybrid particles containing clusters of gold nanoparticles incorporating antitumor drug molecules. The gold nanoclusters absorb light generated by a biomedical laser. While normal tissue is not affected, the gold nanoclusters absorb it, causing a large local temperature increase, stress within the cell and thus cell destruction, improving traditional chemotherapy. Currently, research has yet to be conducted on animal models. Furthermore, buckyballs, C60 structures, boast unprecedented strength so great that they are fuelling possibilities of constructing “space elevators” previously seen in science fiction. Thus, we see the countless promises Science presents humanity.

However, science can well act against humanity. Understandings of radioactivity as pioneered by Curie in the last century allowed understandings of decay, nuclear fission and so on, which have created weapons of mass destruction. These weapons have killed many and will continue to threaten humanity.  Even the rapamycin drug mentioned earlier has its downsides – along with other immunosuppressant drugs, it can result in cancers which could otherwise have been prevented naturally. Furthermore, it raises risks of lung toxicity. As such, the simple assertion that Science is “for humanity” is insufficient. In fact, Science is “against humanity” as much as it is “for humanity”.

From an old Japanese proverb, “To every man is given the key to heaven. The same key opens the gate to hell”. As we come full circle, this “key” would be analogous to Science and this “man” to humanity. Science will thwart us with its complexity and ambiguity. But it is up to us to decide where we want Science to lead us. Finally, it is cardinal, therefore, for students of Science to recognize how Science may act for and against humanity and exercise prudence in their utilization of this double-edged sword.

Background Articles!…

Storage of hydrogen in single-walled carbon nanotubes

A promising start for new anticancer drug

Fritz Haber

Acute sirolimus pulmonary toxicity in an infant heart transplant recipient: Case report and literature review

Nuclear energy

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