How did science and technology change in the 1900s?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some historians dub the period between 1870 and 1914 as the Age of Progress, and one reason why the number of scientific and technological advances skyrocketed during this period and continue to skyrocket today was because for the very first time in history the fields of science and technology merged. The reason for this merger was the Industrial Revolution, a period between 1760 and 1820 or 40 in which new manufacturing processes were developed that made manufacturing and selling products much easier. As sales increased, peoples' standard of living increased. As the standard of living increased, people had more money to spend on more products. As sales increased, the economy continued to grow, creating more jobs and even more money to spend. A secondary result of the economic growth is that suddenly there was a new need to invent new products, and the need for new and advanced products also gave birth to the need to merge the two fields of science and technology. Previously, while the Enlightenment had given birth to great scientific discoveries in chemistry, biology, and physics, and the world had started seeing great technological advances with the invention of the steam engine, locomotive, and many others, the two fields of science and technology remained separate; however, as author Chris Butler on The Flow of History website states, as "technology became more sophisticated, it became increasingly obvious that further progress would depend on fusing [technology] with the more abstract scientific knowledge that had been developing in the universities an labs" ("The Quickening Pace of Technological Change (c. 1850-1900)"). Soon, governments and even private companies began funding research laboratories for scientists to create new inventions. Hence, we see that one way in which science and technology changed in the 1900s is with respect to the fact that the two fields finally merged to create more advanced technology at a great rate of speed.

The late 1800s and 1900s saw volumes of new inventions and discoveries. Other than railroads, steam engines, and steam locomotives, we soon had the invention of the automobile, the combustion engine that enabled flight, the telegraph, transoceanic cables, the telephone, wireless radio, and much, much more.

CaitlynnReeves | Student

There are volumes written about the change in technology at the turn of the century! 

The birth of modern computing is considered to have happened around this time period, as well as Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone. 

After the turn of the century modern medicine began to take great leaps with discoveries such as the Polio vaccine. 

Essentially every modern convenience we enjoy today stems from the 20th century. That is the time that technology truly took root in people's daily lives.

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