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The Dark Side of Technology$
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Peter Townsend

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790532

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790532.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 August 2021

From Trains to Transistors

From Trains to Transistors

(p.64) 5 From Trains to Transistors
The Dark Side of Technology

Peter Townsend

Oxford University Press

Items from the Industrial Revolution were based on a simple understanding of the underlying science, so many products had bad side effects, even if they were effective (e.g. asbestos as an insulator is good, but it causes lung disease). Since then major technological advances have produced a deeper understanding of science and a realization that many key properties are controlled by extremely small quantities of additives. Examples include catalysts and enzymes, or dopants to control electrical properties of semiconductors, and the transmission of optical fibres. Equally critical are the traces of pollutant greenhouse gases and the ensuing effects on climate change. Understanding how changes can be caused by just a few parts per million needs wider dissemination. Nevertheless, with ever more sophisticated technology, understanding the role of trace impurities is essential from electronics biology and medical drugs.

Keywords:   pollutants, catalysis, semiconductors, optical fibres, biology, climate change

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