Each successive age in the course of civilization has been born of revolutionary new ideas, and has been characterized by the implementation of those ideas. In terms of materials, we speak of the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and then Iron Age. To describe man’s social and political developments various descriptive labels have been coined. What labels will eventually apply to our age only time can reveal. However, for relating our era to preceding epochs of recorded history. I can think of no more definite label than the age of technology.
On the coin with which we gain admission to natures’ stone house, science is the obverse face and technology the reverse face. Thus they are inseparable. This terminology should be acceptable to most present day historians. Some people refer to this as a “push button” age in which the end product of evolution will be a creature with all muscular members atrophied except the index finger.
This basic instinct of technology rests upon two prime factors: (1) an adequate supply of essential materials and (2) the possession of knowledge and skills required to obtain them, to modify them, and to utilize them. Men and materials as dual components in man’s ceaseless struggle to his way of life, are traceable to the earliest evidence of prerecorded history. The utilization of nature’s gift, in this advanced technological age is governed by three facts: first, relatively few raw materials are used without modification; second, almost all the basic materials found on this planet find useful application in today’s world; third, the application of basic materials are limitless and varied.
Among the emerging countries many are richly endowed with valuable materials, but remain economically poor because of an undeveloped correlated technology. In time of war, the importance of technology manifests itself with force. Whereas in a peaceful environment, technology advances at moderate pace and over a widespread of technical area, under the stress of war the pace is quickened by the drive of urgency. In the time of war, technology is brought to bear upon industrial mobilization, weapons production, transportation, communication and medical aids. In time of peace, technological advancement is no less important; it is merely less dramatic. With freedom from the constraint of war, man’s ingenuity can forge to the ultimate betterment of all mankind. Technology provides the essential “Vitamins” for the improvement of social well-being. As population expands and urbanization expands, society requires an environment nourished by clean air, pure water, wholesome food, comfortable housing and adequate health services.
A prime factor in the long range objective of social improvement is a deep concern for the conservation of natural resources. Technological advances make increased demands upon natural resources. Therefore unless technology can also find ways of utilizing natural resources more efficiently, it will, in the end, starve itself. For example, rapid and extensive industrialization has created critical problem of water supply, air-pollution and reduction of arable land areas. It has raised questions of the ultimate adequacy of mineral resources—both fuel and non fuel. That the technical challenges presented by these fundamental problems will successfully meet an end. It is clear these problems are hovering like dark clouds over technological horizon. Minerals are vital to the support of modern technology. There is virtually no phase of human activity that does not depend upon mineral resources. As industrialization spreads among the nations of the earth, mineral products will be required in increasing amounts. Similarly there will be increased demands for the mineral fuels, coal, petroleum and gas, and for non-metallic mineral, such as salts, phosphorus, gypsum, sculpture and various clays.
To meet these basic needs it will be necessary to locate and develop additional sources of vital minerals. The nation that takes the lead in providing these needs is most likely to achieve political leadership of the world.