Darker Side of The Moon
upon a time, the idea of landing on the moon was the stuff of science
fiction and fairy tales. Then one fine day, Neil Armstrong and his
teammates turned fiction into fact with "one small step for man…"
Science. It is that genie in the lamp that makes all our wildest imaginings
come true. In many ways, it is like the moon itself - eautiful, fascinating,
and ever changing. Just as poets sing songs and shower odes on the
altar of Diana, and a full moon inspires lunacy, the realm of science
and technology has also enjoyed its fair share of zealots and nutty
professors; it has even become a religion for many. The moon also
has a dark side, however, and so do science and technology.
theory of relativity has become a mandatory part of a physics student's
syllabus. Yet it was his research on nuclear physics that led to the
creation of the atom bomb, and before you could say "Fat Boy,"
the mushroom clouds were rising over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, obliterating
thousands of lives. If technology can be compared to the moon, then
the dark side of this moon is definitely the application of technology
by certain factions.
Indeed we have
learnt a lot from science in the many different branches of its application.
Let's take microbiology for example. It helps us to understand and
discover the nature to culture of microorganisms and teaches us how
to manipulate them for our own benefit. The technology that has developed
from this science makes it possible for us to manufacture synthetic
insulin, to brew, to bake or to conserve. Again microbiology combined
with genetic engineering enables us to find alternate food and energy
sources, 'green' detergents, and eco-friendly sewage treatments.
same technology that has improved the lives of millions worldwide,
has also been used throughout the ages to wreak havoc upon millions
of others. I am referring to biological warfare - the use of organisms,
usually microorganisms, to weaken enemy forces by spreading disease.
Germs for cholera, typhoid, and bubonic plague have been used as early
as the Crimean War, and even before that. Today's biological weapons
are even deadlier smallpox, anthrax and Ebola. The saddest part of
this story is the fact that the targets of these weapons are often
the world of agriculture, science and technology has contributed to
a phenomenal rise in yield, crop resistance, characteristics etc in
a green revolution that has fulfilled demands of farmers and populations.
The science of new fertilizers, pesticides, mechanization, irrigation,
etc, along with process technologies of hydroponics and tissue culture
have changed concepts of farming. On the darker side of the moon in
relation to this, however, is the unprecedented destruction to the
environment due to desertification, denudation of forests, interference
with water systems etc. While a residual accumulation of chemical
fertilizers is entering the food chain to effect man animals and fish
alike. This man-made destruction of ecology is one of the biggest
challenges of agriculture itself.
done wonders for the world of communication. We've come a long way
from Alexander Bell's telephone and Edison's telegraph. Today, we
can reach out to other people thousands of miles away via e-mail,
fax, messaging, voice/data mail, SMS, to name a few. The world is
at our fingertips: instant information is just a mouse-click away.
Do these things really help us stay connected? With online chatting
becoming such a widespread phenomenon, old-fashioned face-to-face
tete-a-tetes may soon become a thing of the past, and let's not even
get started on handwritten letters. To add a serious twist to this
dark moon, let us consider the loss of privacy, hacking, computer
viruses, and so on, that are invariably linked to this form of technology.
major issue that is recently heating up the headlines is the human
cloning debate. With the first cloned human baby being born, new doors
for genetic manipulation have been thrown open. The Human Genome Project
that immediately preceded this new medical marvel successfully mapped
out the human genome, and we came much closer to eradicating gene-linked
diseases to bring fresh hope for sufferers of ailments such as cystic
fibrosis and haemophilia. Then came this baby after it is said that
Dolly the sheep suffered severe arthritis and other physical ailments,
which are now attributed as a result of Dolly being cloned. It is
unfortunate that this creature had to undergo such discomforts in
the name of science, so what right do we have in taking such risks
with a human child? One dismiss call thrillers such as Frankenstein
and The Third Twin as the mere works of fiction, but let's not forget
that Icarus was a myth till the Wright brothers flew their plane.
I have to wonder, if they had known that descendents of their invention
would lead up to the emerging global conflict centered on those crashing
into the World Trade Centre, would they still have gone on with their
new concept of world family, green peace, etc is an outgrowth of a
scientific wonder that can be generically called global village. It
allows the world community to respond, act and intervene rapidly in
incidences of natural, social and political disasters. People are
enabled to interact with each other even in impossible environments,
including space in the experience of Mir space station. On the darker
side this togetherness, by misapplication, is eroding cultural systems
for destroying family and community alike by facilitating transfer
of pornography, drugs and other abuses of Mafia.
I do not wish
to sound pessimistic about science and technology. And I am not saying
it is bad. All I am saying that it is we human beings who bring out
the darker sides of science and technology by using them wrongly.
There is a need to properly evaluate the role of science, ideas and
technology in our lives for there is no doubt that this current age
is seeing the miracles of sciences raising the threshold of knowledge
and achievements. However it is at a cost, for the individual has
lost freedom and is being conditioned to join one herd existence or
another in the trappings of these science and their advertisements.
Thus a planned desensitization of each and every individual Soul is
being paid by one and all, because science is inherently insensitive
to the finer feelings. So the crux issue before us is to determine
how far and in what way we should use the new sciences in medicine,
agriculture, information, etc for improving the quality of life so
that we do not end up losing the romance and passion of living in
a barrenness of science!