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Part 1: Towards the 21st Century
Chapter 2: Science and Technology's Contribution to Human Society in the 20th century and Issues to be Addressed in the Future
Section 1: Development of Science and Technology in the 20th Century and Penetration to Society
1. Approaching the Ultimate - Smaller and Further -

(1) Theory of Relativity - Space and Time Expanding and Contracting -

The special theory of relativity that describes the relationship between systems that do not have acceleration each other, and the general theory of relativity that can be applied to generalized systems were established, and make the common conventional perception that space and time are the same anywhere wreck.

The theory of relativity, together with the discovery of the splitting of uranium atoms, opened the path for the use of atomic energy, enabled nuclear weapons and atomic power generation, and gave an inestimable social and economic impact to human society.

(2) Quantum Mechanics - To the Ultramicroscopic World -

In the ultramicroscopic world, quantum mechanics, which is the theoretical framework that explains how atoms and electrons interact with one another, as well as the structure of substances comprised of large numbers of them, was established by many researchers. The theory was applied into many fields, such as the technical development of semiconductors.

(3) The Discovery of Quarks - Pursuit of Fundamental Particles that Make up Substances -

Up until the 1920s, protons, neutrons, electrons and photons were thought to be four types of fundamental particles, the ultimate indivisible units which make up substances. After the invention of the cyclotron in 1930, however, a variety of fundamental particles started to be discovered, six types of quarks - the elementary particles that comprise protons and neutrons - have been confirmed to exist today.

(4) Discovery of the Double Helix Structure of DNA - The Birth of Molecular Biology -

In 1953 the double helix structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the blueprint of life was discovered, four types of bases linking opposing chains came to be regarded as the main body of genes.

By knowing about genes, it is expected to lead to applications to wide-ranging technical development, such as diagnosis and treatment of genetic disorders, improvements to breeds and production of hormones.

(5) The Expanding Universe - the Birth of the Universe by the Big Bang -

In 1929 it became clear that the universe continues to expand, and in 1946 the Big Bang theory was advocated, in which the universe is thought to start by an ultra-high temperature, ultra-high density fire ball.

With the discovery of cosmic background radiation, the Big Bang theory came to be regarded as the standard theory of the universe.

(6) The New Direction of Science - The Advent of Science of Complex Systems -

The methodology of scientific research this century regarded the whole as an aggregation of elements, and was based on the element-reducing method of searching for the minimum unit (root) of that element.

Recently, however, as is the case with climate change and biology, situations handling complex phenomena are increasing, and with the advances in computers we are seeing the advent of "Science of Complex Systems" which attempts to clarify the mechanisms that control complex phenomena.

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