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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
2. Advances in Goods

(1) Travel and Transport Technology - Faster and Further -

The motor vehicle, a symbol of modern civilization, has dramatically developed as a transportational mean on whole surfaces from rail transport on fixed lines. It is outstanding in volume transported compared to other means of transport such as railways and aircraft ( Fig. 6 ).

Fig. 6: Trends in Japan's Volume Transported by Motor Vehicle and Railways

The history of aircraft started with man's first powered flight in 1903, and aircraft have developed dramatically through the 20th century as a high-speed, long-distance means of transport.

However, these means of transport use vast amounts of fossil fuel energy, and there is increasing concern about the depletion of resources, and environmental problems caused by the carbon dioxide and harmful gases contained in exhaust gas.

(2) Space Development Technology - Opening the Curtain on the Cosmic Age -

Making the first successful experiment to launch a liquid fueled rocket in 1926, mankind succeed the first earth satellite in history in 1957. After that, in 1961 the first manned space flight occurred and in 1969 mankind, at last, landed on the moon. It was one giant leap for mankind.

In the following years, the reusable Space Shuttle carried out approximately 100 flights until now, creating much success such as gathering data and making experiments concerning the earth and the universe.

(3) Mass Production Technology - To Mass Production and Mass Consumption -

In 1913 America's Henry Ford introduced a conveyor system for the production of motor vehicles. Thanks to this introduction, the number of vehicles produced in 1914 at Ford Company was more than the sum of other 299 motor vehicle manufacturers.

Furthermore, after World War II, automatic control technology and intelligentization were achieved, creating new production technology called "mechatronics."

The advancement in mass production technology resulted in "a Mass Production - Mass Consumption - Mass Disposal Society." Home electrical appliances became widespread, but ecosystems and the environment were destroyed and non-renewable resources are consumed in massive quantities.

(4) Advancement of Synthetic Chemistry - Materials Revolution from Clothing to Medicine -

The development of synthetic chemistry, typified by the manufacture of aniline and other synthetic dyes in the second half of the 19th century, was quite marked, and gave us the subsequent era of synthetic pharmaceuticals.

In addition to the development of nylon and the synthesis of ammonia which has enabled the mass production of chemical fertilizer, recent years have appeared "new materials" which are being used in wide-ranging applications.

Meanwhile, in synthetic chemistry and other chemical industries, a variety of chemical agents are used and in some cases heavy metals are also used, moreover large quantities of industrial waste are generated. These facts often lead pollution problems.

(5) Energy - Trying to Find Non-Fossil Fuel Energy -

With regard to atomic energy, nuclear power generation was carried out for the first time in the world in 1951 with the fast reactor (EBR-1) in the US. In Japan, an atomic energy budget was included for the first time as basic research expenses and survey expenses to build a nuclear reactor in 1954, and commercial nuclear power generation started in 1966.

Currently a large quantity of the world power needs are supplied by nuclear power generation, and it has become a vital supply source for power ( Fig. 7 ).

Fig. 7: World Power Sources (1996)

Recently interests about natural energies and other new forms of energy are increasing, but it is impossible for these natural energies alone to answer for the future demand for power. Steady research and development into fast breeder reactors and nuclear fusion are required.

(6) The Advent of Semiconductors - The Cornerstone of Modern Technology -

With the transistor invented in 1948, electronics came to infiltrate a large number of industrial fields.

Integrated circuits (ICs) were invented in 1959, after that large-scale integrated circuits (LSIs) and ultra LSIs were developed to the point where we have reached the era of ultra-ultra LSI in which the degree of location is several million gates. The degree of location of semiconductors quadruples in three years.

Semiconductors are the cornerstone that support electronic devices and computer technology, the characteristic of modern society. They are strongly related to a variety of situations in the workplace and home life of modern people who lives in "electronic society," and they are one of this century's most important inventions which play a vital role in supporting and developing these technologies.

In addition, laser technology, which becomes more compact by using semiconductors as a light source, is widely used across a wide range of fields, including optical communications, sensing, information processing, prismatic analysis, medical care, laser processing, and laser reproduction devices.

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