Science & Technology

 

 

Karl Marx has been decried by mainstream economists and news outlets as dead, irrelevant and/or outdated. A new study published by the world’s most reputed scholarly journal, Nature, once again shows that despite the hue and cry of naysayers and those who would revise history, his specter cannot be exorcised.

Quantum physics occupies a fascinating place at the cutting edge of modern scientific research. First developed in the early 20th Century, quantum theory is allowing today’s scientists to plumb new depths when it comes to matter and motion. A new book, Quantum Social Science, by Andrei Khrennikov and Emmanuel Haven argues that applying the logic of quantum theory to social systems can take our understanding of human society to a whole new level.

The development of genetically-modified organisms (GMO) has opened up whole new possibilities for improving the nutrition of humanity.For the first time, humans are able to genetically engineer species or organisms by transferring DNA between totally different organisms, potentially allowing for food to be grown in harsher climates, for example, or for existing crops to yield more food. However, under capitalism, GMOs are being abused by large agro-corporations, such as Monsanto, to maximize shareholders’ profits at the expense of ordinary people around the world.  Instead, GMOs have reduced the safety and security of the food system for billions of people. What is a working-class

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The Marxist analysis of history – that is, the dialectical and materialist analysis of history – explains that the main motor force in history is the need for society to develop the productive forces: to increase our knowledge of and mastery over nature; to reduce the socially necessary labour time needed to produce and reproduce the conditions of life; to improve lifestyles and raise the standards of living.

As Julian Assange and Bradley Manning have discovered, being a whistle-blower is not for the faint hearted. Now Edward Snowden has become the latest fugitive of US imperialism, his only crime being that he told embarrassing truths about the US government.

Capitalism has become an absolute fetter on the development of the productive forces. This also affects the development of science, which is geared to the profit motive. After the October 1917 Russian Revolution the arts and science experienced a short-lived period of freedom, as the Bolshevik leadership under Lenin and Trotsky understood that this was the only way of moving forward. But as the revolution, isolated in a backward country, underwent degeneration under Stalin, this also affected these recently won freedoms. The fate of Nicolai Ivanovich Vavilov, a brilliant Russian geneticist who ended up in Stalin’s gulags highlights this process.

Last week, Edward Snowden became the latest in a long line of whistleblowers. It has been revealed that the US National Security Agency has been given backdoor access to telephone exchanges and a long range of online accounts from major service providers, underlining how the state breaches users’ privacy on a massive scale in order to get intelligence.

The cat-and-mouse game between piracy supporters on the one hand and state authorities and major multinational companies on the other is heating up. Over the past few years there has been a marked increase in the persecution of websites and individuals involved in piracy. Democratic rights are being thrown overboard and the full force of the state applied in the media industry’s ruthless pursuit of profits.

At a 2013 Marxist Winter School, John Pickard - former editor the Militant - explores the topic of Marxism and Science.

On the 24th August 2012 Samsung was ordered by a court in San Jose, California to pay Apple just over $1 billion in damages for patent infringement. Apple is now seeking to ban the sale of certain Samsung products in the USA and a hearing is scheduled for 20th September for that claim. This long-running dispute between these technology giants over infringement of smart phone patents shines a spotlight on the failings of a decaying capitalist system.

Ten years ago the great palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould died in New York of cancer. It was the second time that Gould had faced this terrible disease and this time he was defeated by it. The name of Gould will always be linked to his “punctuated equilibrium theory”, published in 1977 with his colleague Niles Eldredge.

Modern scientific research has identified the major physiological, neurological, and genetic differences between humans and our biological ancestors. In particular, it has been found that the human brain is qualitatively different in terms of the development of the parts of the brain that control abstract reasoning, social behaviour, and manual abilities. This discovery is yet more evidence in favour of the explanation that Frederick Engels gave for the evolution of humans in his essay “The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man”.

The Stop Only Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PROTECT IP Act, PIPA) are two bills that were put before the US House of Representatives and Senate in 2011. The two bills are supposedly designed to defend owners of copyrighted content, trademarks and pharmaceutical patents in their long-standing struggle against “pirates”. But there is a lot more to it than that!

A new documentary produced by the BBC, called ‘The Secret Life of Chaos’ has attempted, with a degree of success, to reveal how the latest developments in science through ‘chaos theory’ are finally beginning to make redundant any religious explanation of the workings of the universe and the emergence of intelligent life.

This month marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. This book revolutionised thinking about the living world because for the first time it provided an explanation for the evolution of species. It was a triumph of the materialist world outlook and for that reason its publication was celebrated by Marx and Engels.