Explain how the science below is actually put to use in ways that weren’t originally intended?Science - The synthetic ammonia process. Fritz Haber developed the synthetic ammonia process to...

Explain how the science below is actually put to use in ways that weren’t originally intended?

Science - The synthetic ammonia process.

Fritz Haber developed the synthetic ammonia process to help Germany make explosives during World War I. Now, it is used to make the nitrogen fertiliser on which half the world's population depends.

Explain how this science is actually put to use in ways that weren’t originally intended?

Asked on by natalyap12

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readerofbooks's profile pic

readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

One of great things about science is that scientist discover many things in the process of their research for which they were not even looking. By this fact alone, they are able to use these discoveries in way that they did not original even think of. Your example is a good one. Nuclear energy is another good example. On the one hand, you can make weapons; on the other hand you can create almost endless energy. If you want to research this even more, I suggest that you read Thomas Khun's Scientific Revolutions. It is a ground breaking book that was written in 1966, but is still has great insights. I will link a short review of the book.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The discussion of the question reflects a major theme that has to be present within scientific research.  Scientists' seek to make things better and more innovative.  Presumably, they do so in order to satiate their own curiosity, present solutions to a problem that has vexed others, or to make the world better.  However, when science becomes influenced, manipulated, or guided by other forces such as government or industrial interests, there is a greater chance to have its application different from its original intent.  Haber is one of many scientists who saw their work appropriated to work for other ends that might have been divergent from the original purpose.  At some point, science and scientists have to be mindful of how this process of influence can play a role in their findings and work.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

It seems to me that you have already answered your own question.

If Haber invented this process as a way of making weapons in World War I, then presumably he intended it to be a way to kill people.  Instead, people now use it to make fertilizer.  So instead of killing people (as it was originally intended) it is now being used to allow people to live.  This is clearly a use that was not originally intended.

This is not surprising.  Scientific discoveries are often used in ways that their inventors would not have foreseen.

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