Reporter column : Science and Technology is the Key to the Future
Reporter column : Science and Technology is the Key to the Future
  • Reporter Gwak Jun-ho
  • 승인 2017.01.01 16:59
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I recently attended a lecture called “Economics for Natural Sciences and Engineering” delivered by Professor Sung Tae-yoon of the Economics Department of Yonsei University. As I am just starting to know the very basic, superficial knowledge of Mechanical Engineering, which is the major that I study, I often come to think of the inter-link between science and economics. Sincerely to say, though, I think the money-making relationship between economics and sciences is a cliché topic which the majority of POSTECH students are already aware of. Instead of money, I would like to talk about the relationship between the welfare of society and sciences, which was also covered by Prof. Sung during his lecture.
Up to the 18th century, the economic level which is based on the size of capitals, citizens’ welfare, activity of markets, etc, of the world was a mere several percentage points ahead of Paleolithic/Neolithic Era. There was a massive jump, however, between the 18th and 19th century; once during the mid 1800’s and again in the early 1900’s. Interestingly, the periods of sharp increase coincides with the 1st and 2nd Industrial Revolution. In the past, products were made through handcraft manufacturing. The resources for manufacturing the products were delivered by wagons and row boats, which was also time-consuming. Therefore, the overall productivity was inevitably very low, and relatively few goods were sold at high prices. Through theIndustrial Revolution, based on steam engines modernized by James Watt, mass production and advancements of transportations such as trains, steam boats, etc. became possible and drastically increased productivity of factories by increasing the rate of production while decreasing the total cost as it became easier and faster to get access to resources. As a result, the welfare of consumers who could buy necessary products at lower costs and in larger quantities, and producers who could produce products with lower costs and sell more, was increased, pulling up the economic level as a result.
The Industrial Revolution could not have been achieved, however, without sciences. New findings and inventions by sciences can make the manufacturing process for certain products faster and cheaper, or introduce possibilities of new technologies which can expand the market and ameliorate over-competition and price wars between producers. Therefore, sciences and engineering are still significant economic catalysts, and during these days where consumers are bored with the same products and producers are exhausted with price wars, scientific innovations are necessary for our social welfare to take one step forward. However, I am not claiming for ourselves to be enlightened and just strive for welfare of the society. Rather, I would like to encourage you to be thirsty for achieving your goals. New venture businesses, academic discoveries, technologies that we desperately dig up for our own satisfaction and welfare will naturally lead to the society’s welfare. During these days where people compete with banal efforts to be the ‘best’ in something, we should widen our perspective and contemplate on what we can do to be the ‘only’ one in something.