We are the luckiest human beings that has ever lived on this planet. I mean everyone alive today. Not only that, we are also living in the best of the time the world has ever possibly been; the time we are born, that’s what makes us truly lucky. Imagine if you were born any time other than this. Lets not talk about you instead lets talk about me. Imagine I was born some other time than this. Say 300 years back.
First thing is before I’m being born, my parents would have a high chance of death by some diseases, and they would have a very low chance of conceiving me. What do they do when they get sick? They get some leaves or roots and rub it on their skin or worse, drink it. Which doesn’t work 80% of the time.
Anyway If they succeed in conceive me, again they are faced with starvation and high chance of miscarriage. After that comes giving birth. A pretty risky stuff. There is more than 95% chance that we both die while giving birth. The further one goes back in time one will see higher chance of either child or mother dying during birth. This was the case until 1850s, even in the most developed countries, like UK, France.
After birth, again I will be faced with all kind of diseases. Those days people died due to mild fever, imagine these days, no one will even believe that it is possible to die from mild fever, but that was the case back then. One has to be extremely fit and their immune System must be strong inorder to be alive those days. Not like today. These days we have people who cannot run for more than a minute without getting a heart attack. That means less than half of the people alive today will not be alive if they were born back then. We have so many people with weak immune system and weak physical health alive today, reaching their 60th birthday. So lucky.
We know population of the world today is 7 billion. 300 years back the population of the world is just the population of North America. But parents back then had more children than they have today. Therefore if this calculation is accurate, more than 3 billion children are born, but less than 1 billion reach their 30th year. That means more than 2 billion die before they reach the age of 30. If we count today’s world without including Africa, and Asia, every child that is born today have 90% chance of living till his 30th birthday at least. This is a huge progress. Today we look at this and take it for granted; like ‘meh’, but tell you what, it’s huge.
Bill Gates described the situation of 300 years back fairly well. He wrote:
‘Until about 1700, there was basically no development. Almost everybody was poor, many were sick. One of every four children died. Average expectancy was about 40 years, and 99 percent people were illiterate. But then science came along and we stared inventing – electricity, the steam engine, antibiotics, sanitation, vaccines, microprocessors, genetic medicine.’
When we look at population data, we find a huge population boom from 1920s onward. People’s life span increased from 45 years to 65 years. What was the secret behind this population boom and increase of life span?
The answer is Soap. If you want to argue with me, then ok I will add penicillin too. But bear with me, I will explain.
Mostly we get sick because of three things. From big to small its 1. Germs, 2. Bacteria and 3. Virus. Before soap, you will die from, three of it, germs, bacteria, and viruse. After soap, you will die from bacteria and viruses, and after penicillin was invented, you will die from viruses only. And that is the case until today. Yes, good news for you, you will not die from germs, or bacteria it’s only viruses than you should be aware of.
Now, here is the catch, between the invention of soap and penicillin, the population boom has already begun. This is why I put soap first. On the other hand, penicillin is taken only when someone gets sick, and it is very likely for someone to get sick two or three times before they reach the age of 25. Even I got fever and all more than 10 time before I reach 25. The people who disagree with me would say, when they get sick, penicillin was what saved their life. I also think they might be right in that. But we should add the improvements in their immune system because of keeping themselves and their food clean. Cleaned with soap.
Another thing science gave to us and we shoud thank for it is Transport. Imagine traveling from Maldives to Sri Lanka before invention of engine? If 10 people leave the shore, they would return a year later, 5 missing. There has never been a time in history where there are so many people traveling. Even in most developed ancient cities, like Rome, Persia and Babylon people did not move around much.
The invention of Engine has Revolutionised land and sea transport. We have motorcycle, car truck on the land that can carry us and our goods from place to place at a speed of 80km/h none stop. Even the fastest animal we used for transport could not do that. It gets tired after an hour. Something like a train is unimaginable to early people.
After making engine and accelerating our speed to 80km/h science didn’t stop there. Instead it took a big leap, jumping from 80 to 300km/h. This time not by land, but by air. Today millions of people move around from continent to continent with the help of this invention – the aeroplanes.
Science gave us all these things that no king, or president or anyone ever been able to give us. It will be endless to talk about all those things so lets cut it short.
When we go into the kitchen and grab some cold water from the refrigerator to drink, we don’t think of science. When we take panadol, we don’t think ‘ooh science is great’ instead we just put it in our mouth and swallow, while thinking why is this damn thing is so bitter. Science is everywhere, and it’s connected with everything we do.
Usually the part that is science works in the background so we don’t really see it unless we look deep enough. Next time if you see your 3 year old kid breaking his stuff. Leave him. He is doing science stuff.
To conclude all this I hope I have presented enough arguments to support the claim that science has benefited menkind more than everything else combined.