In the previous chapter we explored the process of emergence of new paradigms in Mechanics, using various mathematical identities to transform Newton's SECOND LAW into new equations whose left- and right-hand sides were given names of their own, like impulse, momentum, work, energy, torque and angular momentum. Eighteenth-Century physicists then learned to manipulate these "new" concepts in ways that greatly clarified the behaviour of objects in the material universe. As a result, previously mysterious or counterintuitive phenomena began to make sense in terms of simple, easy-to-use models, rather than long involved calculations. This is the essence of what Physics is all about. We work hard to make todays's difficult tasks easier, so that we will have more free time and energy tomorrow to work hard to make tomorrow's difficult tasks easier, so that . . . .
Meanwhile, these new words made their way into day-to-day language and introduced new paradigms into society, whose evolution in "The Age of Reason" might have followed other paths were it not for Newton's work.12.1 The effects of a more versatile and effective science of Mechanics were also felt in blunt practical terms: combined with the new science of Thermodynamics (to be discussed in a later chapter), Mechanics made possible an unprecedented growth of Mankind's ability to push Nature around by brute force, a profitable enterprise (in the short term) that led to the Industrial Revolution. Suddenly people no longer had to accept what Nature dealt, which enhanced their health and wealth considerably - but in taking new cards they found they also had a new dealer who was more merciless than Nature had ever been: Greed.
Here arises a perennial question: are the evils of "technology abuse," from pollution to exploitation to weapons of war, the "fault" of scientists who create the conceptual tools that make technology possible?12.2 My own opinion is that we scientists have a responsibility for our creations in much the same way that parents have a responsibility for their children: we try to provide a wholesome and enlightened atmosphere in which they can grow and fulfill all their potential, offering our guidance and advice whenever it will be accepted, and setting the best example we can; but in the end ideas are like people - they will determine their own destiny. The best scientists can do to guide the impact of their ideas on society is to make sure the individual members of society have the opportunity to learn about those ideas. Whether anyone takes advantage of that opportunity or not is out of our control. Whether irresponsible or malign individuals make evil use of our ideas is also out of our control, though we can do our best to dissuade them.12.3