The Peripheral Scope of Science
It seems that science was originally concerned with the discovery of patterns that can be relied upon to persist, such as, generally, the laws of nature. "Science" grew out of earlier attempts to organise our understanding of the natural world, such as mysticism and philosophy, and was refined into methods through which we could sharpen our understanding of nature and make better predictions.
By nature, scientists are an inquisitive sort, and despite popular caricatures they are not generally aloof to the needs of society. For example, the role of scientists in urging for the creation of nuclear weapons and subsequently in cautioning against their (mis)use is especially well-known. This is an example of how the scope of science has been extended to areas which are not recognisably scientific, and this has caused science to take on auxiliary roles at the periphery of its traditional scope. For instance, scientists are encouraged to "spin-off" their research into companies that nurture a state's economy. Scientists have helped allay unfounded fear concerning causes of diseases, and are generally relied upon to present the facts and to help restore peace-of-mind. Scientists have also taken-on an increasingly prominent role in formulating public policy and it has also been suggested to use science as a tool for diplomacy.
During the talk I plan to explore the transformation of scientific concerns and how this coincides with the interests of society.
Keywords: Social Responsibility, Science Policy
Graduate Student, Computer Lab, University of Cambridge