By Ralph E. Moore Jr.
It seems for most of us things are constantly changing. There was a time that if you wanted to make a phone call, you did it from home in a telephone wired to one place on the kitchen wall. Then, there were coin-operated phone booths on street corners and finally the portable, powerful, smart cell phone was created. Television, once invented, developed from only black in white images on a small, bulky screen to the full color 82 inch flat screen and every size in between in homes all around the world. Cars require gasoline to operate, and God forbid if you ever lost your car keys, but now you can buy a car that runs on gas or electricity or a hybrid of both.
Just about every home nowadays has two stoves: a range with a top for cooking and a bottom for baking and broiling and a fast cooking microwave oven.
Finally, we left home to go to a theater to see a movie. Next, movies were put on tapes and you rented them at video stores and took them home to watch. And now, all Blockbuster type video rental stores are closed (the last one closed in Bend, Ore. in 2019). Now you can download and “stream” movies from the internet in the comfort of your home.
All of those changes to everyday life came to us as a consequence of improved technology and brilliant inventors.
Creative minds using math or science to solve a problem or to create an improvement is how technology impacts and betters our lives. Inventors are geniuses. Someone observed the first fire and imagined uses for it. Someone invented the wheel and the ability to use tools. Someone started writing, another started reading, then along came books, newspapers and letters.
Clearly, we have come a long way because of technology. Education, entertainment and communication have all been easier to access and perhaps better in quality. During the pandemic for example, it was fortunate that students could be taught at home with the use of the desktop computers or their cell phones. Teachers could avoid COVID contagion also by working from home. Home computers and the internet saved lives.
Large crowd gatherings in sports stadiums or movie houses were halted for a while, so live-streamed or downloaded home entertainment became a very useful alternative. And luckily when we needed it, someone had invented Zoom. A young man named Eric Yuan created Zoom, a video communications medium, in April 2019. ZOOM helped business to go on, meetings continued to plan, to supervise, to brainstorm and to keep connected to family, friends and co-workers alike.
Many churches, mosques and synagogues held their services on Zoom and congregation members could be in their house of worship’s number from the comfort of their home, sometimes in pajamas.
It is hard to imagine what life would be like without advances in technology. Transportation would be slower (thank you Orville and Wilbur Wright), communication would take longer, if Alexander Graham Bell had not invented the telephone and we’d still be using candles to light our homes at night if Thomas Edison and others hadn’t invented the light bulb.
But as the old saying goes, when you solve one problem, you create others. Precious metals are needed to manufacture our cell phones. Copper, cobalt, tungsten and manganese are becoming harder to get. Fossil fuel and all those cars and other vehicles led to global warming or climate change and our increasingly stressed environment. “Oh mercy, mercy me. Things ain’t what they used to be.” Marvin Gaye warned us about the need to pay attention to the environment. He gave us cautionary advice on his 1971 album, “What’s Going On?” And we ignored him, so we have wildfires out west, hurricanes all over and “in your face weather” all the time: blizzards, torrential rains and floods including from the melting of polar arctic snowcaps.
Some tout nuclear energy as a viable alternative while others are nervous that if anything goes wrong in its operation many lives could be lost. Nuclear bombs are devastating.
But looking on the bright side: intelligent, hardworking scientists, mathematicians and inventors make aspects of our lives better. We just have to keep listening to scientists and not politicians to know what to do about matters such as our health. To do otherwise is pure craziness.
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