In the course of his historic development man gradually learned to use the forces of nature and created our civilization. He managed to change the earth beyond recognition: inhabited vast expanses of wilderness, constructed roads, plants and irrigated deserts. Man is also the creator of the innumerable spiritual treasures of mankind: the wonderful works of art, literature and science. All this became possible thanks to man’s labour, his ability to learn, to understand and explain different phenomena of the material word.
In this progressive advance of man a particularly significant role belongs to energy.
First man learned to use to use the energy of fire. Many thousand years passed before man learned to use the energy of wind, water and stream, and later – electricity. For producing electricity man discovered and began to use different energy resources: coal, oil, gas, shale, hydropower and nuclear energy.
Not so long ago man invented and put into service
the steam engine and steam locomotives. Then he attached the steam engine to looms and to various wheels and so work began to speed up.
The steam engine worked a revolution in the mode of production. The discovery and use electricity brought about the industrial revolution. A multitude of machines – mechanical, steam and electrical – began to do man’s difficult and complex work. But mans brain still controlled the machines doing the work. He started them, guided them and stopped them. He judged their work and corrected errors. His eyes, ears and sense of touch did the observing, and his brain interpreted their information. Then people invented machines and electronic computers which freed the worker not only of the performance of all production operations but even of control.
The machine made a great contribution to the spread of information and the advance of learning. The machine system made it possible to include science in production on a large scale. But it was a long and a hard way. It took the steam engine more than a century to develop its tremendous capacity to the full. The industrial revolution, brought about by the discovery and use of electricity, took some 50-60 years to run its course.
The second half of the 20th century began an entirely new era – the era of the scientific and technological revolution. It is due to complex mechanization and full automation.
The discovery of the chain reaction of nuclear fission and the reaction of thermonuclear fusion promises mankind a practically unlimited source of energy. Now scientists began to study and use outer space for Man’s benefit.
All this is possible thanks to a wide introduction of scientific discoveries in production.
We live in the epoch when science becomes direct productive force of society. All-round automation determines the social consequences of the scientific-technological progress. Automation will take over man’s manual work and electronic computers will relieve him of much of his mental work, leaving him time for creativity. It obliterates the distinctions between physical and mental labour.