Once the discovered laws of nature are put to application, they put on a human face with all the cultural, political, and social cosmetics fashionable at the time. The same engine that drives a truckful of food to a flood-stricken community can propel a tank to bulldoze dwellings, schools, and people. It is technology (not science) that takes electricity, a fundamental force of nature, and either warms houses in the winters of Alaska, or electrocutes a death row inmate in Texas. The laws of chemistry will not change whether we use them to make aspirin or nerve gas.
The task of science is solely the discovery of the laws of nature. Technology (including medicine) uses these laws to meet human needs. Science is blind to future applications and is independent of any social, political, or economic conditions. Technology is driven by them.
The difference between science and technology is highlighted by the difference between the biographies of scientists and inventors. Samuel Morse and Thomas Alva Edison had no background in science, but very much interested in getting rich by inventing gadgets that could attract many customers. On the other hand, Michael Faraday, despite his poverty and lack of formal education, was very much interested in – and simply curious about – the workings of magnets and electric currents. And this interest and curiosity drove him to acquire all the necessary scientific background before he could embark on some crucial discoveries in physics and chemistry.
With only a few exceptions, scientists have had to master their scientific fields before they could contribute to them. This typically – but not exclusively – involves attending universities and obtaining the highest possible degree in their chosen field. Inventors, on the other hand, have very little or no training in their “field” of interest. In fact, there is probably as much training in “How to become an inventor” as there is in “How to make a fortune.”
Nowadays the funding agencies of science and their decision makers expect practical applications (or potential for quick applications) from any scientific investigation. Yet the history of physics reveals that the most drastic changes in our civilization arising from applied technology were the progeny of some seemingly fruitless exercise of human curiosity. Who could have predicted that the tinkering of the lodestone and amber of the sixteenth century would give rise to the transmission of information over hundreds of miles in a fraction of a second? Yet the technology of modern telecommunication is based entirely on electric charges, conductors, wires, and magnets, the toys of the earlier practitioners of seemingly futile exercises of human curiosity.