Volume 11, Number 10
23 November 2004

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This Week

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On Science and Engineering

Dictionary.com on the web defines science as "the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena," and engineering as "the application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical structures, machines, processes, and systems." However, it requires a philosophical point of view to clarify which phenomena and what practical ends.
To gain further insight into how science and engineering might best meet the needs of society, the IEEE Bilkent Student Branch interviewed Geoff Bowe, Asst. Prof. in the Department of Philosophy and the Program in Cultures, Civilizations and Ideas.

Dr. Bowe introduced us to the notion of "betterment of life." He explained the betterment of life as the process of enabling people to have an easier life with free time to think. Thinking is the means of expressing oneself and knowing what we, others, and things are. An easier life and the ability to express oneself makes a person happy. Therefore, the goal of betterment should inspire science's investigation of phenomena and engineering's development of practical applications.

Dr. Bowe also spoke to us about "counterproductivity." He explained it in terms of how the outcomes of science and engineering force us to do things that may or may not be beneficial. For instance, nowadays we are almost entirely restricted to using cars and similar vehicles for transportation.  However, we do not clearly understand whether their use truly connects us to others or merely results in traffic jams, pollution, and a hectic lifestyle. Therefore, the outcomes of science and engineering are sometimes self-consuming. Engineering and science without limits or clear goals can negatively affect everyone's quality of life.

In fact, science and engineering are progressing so quickly that they could even harm our entire society. Aiming for the betterment of life would direct the efforts of science and engineering toward a rational course, and ensure that their outcomes are more in line with the desires of society's members.

Cyberpark Tour
The Bilkent IEEE Student Branch will be organizing a tour to Cyberpark in the following weeks. The tour will be on either a Tuesday or a Thursday, according to students' requests. Students who want to go on the tour should contact Bilkent@ieee.org. For more information, please visit www.ieee.org/bilkentl


Prepared by the IEEE Bilkent Student Branch

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