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.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration
) is the agency of the United States government
that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program
and for aeronautics
research. Since February 2006, NASA's mission statement has been to "pioneer the future in space exploration
, scientific discovery
and aeronautics research." President Eisenhower
established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act
was passed on July 29, 1958, replacing its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
(NACA). The agency became operational on October 1, 1958. Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo
moon-landing missions, the Skylab
space station, and later the Space Shuttle
. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station
and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle
and Commercial Crew
vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program
(LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System
that it said would take the agency's astronauts farther into space than ever before and provide the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S. NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System
, advancing heliophysics
through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System
with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons
, and researching astrophysics
topics, such as the Big Bang
, through the Great Observatories
and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite
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