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The FOCS 1 is a continuous cold caesium fountain atomic clock in Switzerland. Credit: METAS.

Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function.

It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species' ability to control and adapt to their natural environments.


In 1937, the American sociologist Read Bain wrote that "technology includes all tools, machines, utensils, weapons, instruments, housing, clothing, communicating and transporting devices and the skills by which we produce and use them."[1] Bain's definition remains common among scholars today, especially social scientists.

Equally prominent is the definition of technology as applied science, especially among scientists and engineers, although most social scientists who study technology reject this definition.[2]

The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers a definition of the term: "the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area" and "a capability given by the practical application of knowledge".[3]

Ursula Franklin, in her 1989 "Real World of Technology" lecture, gave another definition of the concept; it is "practice, the way we do things around here".[4]

Bernard Stiegler, in Technics and Time, 1, defines technology in two ways: as "the pursuit of life by means other than life", and as "organized inorganic matter."[5] ... Stiegler has more recently stated that biotechnology can no longer be defined as "organized inorganic matter," given that it is, rather, "the reorganization of the organic."[6]

Technology can be most broadly defined as the entities, both material and immaterial, created by the application of mental and physical effort in order to achieve some value. In this usage, technology refers to tools and machines that may be used to solve real-world problems. It is a far-reaching term that may include simple tools, such as a crowbar or wooden spoon, or more complex machines, such as a space station or particle accelerator. Tools and machines need not be material; virtual technology, such as computer software and business methods, fall under this definition of technology.[7]

Theoretical technology[edit]

Def. the organization of knowledge for practical purposes is called technology.

Usage notes

  • Adjectives often applied to "technology": assistive, automotive, biological, chemical, domestic, educational, environmental, geospatial, industrial, instructional, medical, microbial, military, nuclear, visual, advanced, sophisticated, high, modern, outdated, obsolete, simple, complex, medieval, ancient, safe, secure, effective, efficient, mechanical, electrical, electronic, emerging, alternative, appropriate, clean, disruptive.


This chart shows the increasing accuracy of NIST (formerly NBS) atomic clocks. Credit: National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), USA.

An atomic clock is a clock device that uses an electronic transition frequency in the microwave, optical, or ultraviolet region[8] of the electromagnetic spectrum of atoms as a frequency standard for its timekeeping element. Atomic clocks are the most accurate time and frequency standards known, and are used as primary standards for international time distribution services, to control the wave frequency of television broadcasts, and in global navigation satellite systems such as GPS.

The FOCS 1 continuous cold cesium fountain atomic clock at the top of the page started operating in 2004 at an uncertainty of one second in 30 million years. The clock is in Switzerland.


Los Alamos National Laboratory Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory.

A laboratory is a construct you create so as to produce reproducible measurements.

Def. a room, building or institution equipped for scientific research, experimentation or analysis is called a laboratory.


A typical tape measure with both metric and US units is shown to measure two US pennies. Credit: Stilfehler.

Def. any act of quantifying relative to a standard is called a measurement.

In the image on the right are three diverse technologies:

  1. a typical tape measure with both metric and US units is shown to measure
  2. two stamped US pennies, on a
  3. parquet flooring.


Technology has opened up doors that lead to skill development where these possibilities were never even considered decades earlier. Credit: Thoichang.

One such talented musician from Manipur who has used YouTube to share music to the world is June Neelu. The usage of free and open software itself translates into a counter hegemonic development against the dominant paradigm of the recording industry.


This image of a xenon ion engine, photographed through a port of the vacuum chamber where it was being tested at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shows the faint blue glow of charged atoms being emitted from the engine. Credit: NASA.
The image shows the blue glow given off by the synchrotron beam from the National Synchrotron Light Source. Credit: NSLS, Brookhaven National Laboratory.
This image shows a beam of accelerated ions (perhaps protons or deuterons) escaping the accelerator and ionizing the surrounding air causing a blue glow. Credit: Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory.
The surface of a MEMS device is cleaned with bright, blue oxygen plasma in a plasma etcher to rid it of carbon contaminants. (100mTorr, 50W RF) Credit: .

The image in the center shows a blue glow in the surrounding air from emitted cyclotron particulate radiation.

At left is an image that shows the blue glow resulting from a beam of relativistic electrons as they slow down. This deceleration produces synchrotron light out of the beam line of the National Synchrotron Light Source.

Plasma cleaning involves the removal of impurities and contaminants from surfaces through the use of an energetic plasma created from gaseous species. Gases such as argon and oxygen, as well as mixtures such as air and hydrogen/nitrogen are used. The plasma is created by using high frequency voltages (typically kHz to >MHz) to ionise the low pressure gas (typically around 1/1000 atmospheric pressure), although atmospheric pressure plasmas are now also common.


Simeiz RT-22-m radio telescope is for mm and cm radio waves. Credit: Vyacheslav Stepanyuchenko from Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation.{{free media}}

"22-m radio telescope for mm and cm radio waves. Located at the foot of mount Koshka (Cat) in Katsiveli (near Simeiz). Belongs to the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory, the Department of Radioastronomy."[9]

"RT-22 operation is supported by control system, consisting of two encoders with accuracy about 3 arcsec (rms), personal computer, CAMAC, quartz time standard, electric engines and other needed equipment and software. The fast RT-22 movement is supported by 2 engines with 20 kW power each, they are used for rapid change of the pointing or to move RT-22 from one source to another. 2 kW engines are used for tracking of the source."[9]

"Diameter: 22 m. Surface tolerance: 0.25 mm. Wavelength limit: 2 mm."[9]

"The radiotelescope is able to observe only single circular polarization which can be selected by investigator. Radiotelescope has a feed horn which allows to observe at the wavelength 13 and 3.6 cm simultaneously. The radiotelescope operation is supported by a control system, which consists of two encoders with accuracy of positioning 3 arcsec (rms), computer IBM-486, CAMAC, quartz time standard, electric engines and other equipment and software. 2 engines with 20 kW power each provide the fast radiotelescope motion and they are used for rapid change of the pointing or for radiotelescope motion from one source to another. Another two 2 kW engines are used for slow tracking of the source."[9]

"The control system of the radiotelescope provides the possibility to point the antenna and to track observed source in two regimes: autonomous and automatic. Operator sets the coordinates of the targeted source using keyboard of the computer when the system works in autonomous regime. All modes of the radiotelescope operation: antenna motion, radiometer readings, data recording are given from the special host computer in automatic regime."[9]

"The radiotelescope doesn't have a cover sheet (radome). Low frequencies equipment and recording system are located in the laboratory building in 30 meters apart from the radiotelescope."[9]


  1. Technology is an opportunity to use materials or thinking and conceiving in the abstract to alter the course of events so that life forms having such facility can survive.

See also[edit]


  1. Read Bain, "Technology and State Government," American Sociological Review 2 (December 1937): 860.
  2. Donald A. MacKenzie and Judy Wajcman, "Introductory Essay" in The Social Shaping of Technology, 2nd ed. (Buckingham, England : Open University Press, 1999) ISBN 0-335-19913-5.
  3. Definition of technology. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2007-02-16.
  4. Franklin, Ursula. Real World of Technology. House of Anansi Press. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
  5. Stiegler, Bernard (1998). Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus. Stanford University Press. pp. 17, 82. ISBN 0-8047-3041-3 Check |isbn= value: checksum (help).
  6. Stiegler, Bernard (2008). L'avenir du passé: Modernité de l'archéologie. La Découverte. p. 23. ISBN 2-7071-5495-4.
  7. Industry, Technology and the Global Marketplace: International Patenting Trends in Two New Technology Areas. Science and Engineering Indicators 2002. National Science Foundation. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
  8. Dennis McCarthy, P. Kenneth Seidelmann (2009). TIME from Earth Rotation to Atomic Physics. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH. ch. 10 & 11.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Vyacheslav Stepanyuchenko (8 September 2005). File:Simeiz RT-22.jpg. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 23 July 2018.

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