How does technology enable scientific discovery?

“We should notice the force, effect, and consequences of inventions, which are nowhere more conspicuous than in those three which were unknown to the ancients… printing, gun powder, and the compass. For these three have changed the appearance and state of the whole world… innumerable changes have been thence derived, so that no empire… appears to have exercised a greater power and influence on human affairs than these mechanical  discoveries.”

– Francis Bacon

The idea that science is a “theory producing machine” came to be challenged by philosophers of science such as Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn. A growing, if still controversial, view sees science as situated within social, political and constructivist contexts.  Even amongst scientific realists (and I tentatively include myself in that camp), it is recognised that science itself is technologically embodied:

“Without instruments and laboratories, there was no science.” (p. 7)

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