Top General Paper Model Essay Answers – Science & Technology
Science and Technology is one of the widest topics of the Cambridge – UICLES – SEAB GCE A-Level General paper exam for JC students in Singapore. It is also one of the evergreen themes as science & tech are always evolving and progressive. Hence , it is a good idea to prepare for this perennial favourite topic, as it will serve you well in your eventual “A” level examinations.
Under this topic are the subtopics of mobile application, internet, social media, mathematics, nuclear and alternative sources of energy, computer programming, computing, coding, robotic process automation (RPA), internet of things (IoT), cloud technologies, Agile methodologies, cyber security. Not to forget, it can also cross-examined with other topics to form a broader theme such as social issues, work, sports and leisure, economic, political issues, etc.
Here are a few top GP essay model questions and answers for Science & Tech.
Q1: Discuss the view that when Man learnt to split the atom, he opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box.
Legend has it that when Pandora’s Box was opened, the evils of the world, such as chaos and destruction, were released upon a relatively peaceful world. The only one. good thing that came out of Pandora’s Box was hope and so the same now goes for the splitting of the atom: a lot of trouble with only a few benefits. This brings to mind the question of why Man tried to split the atom if it meant having more problems in an already troubled world. The answer to the question lies in the fact that man did not consider the consequences of splitting the atom. The rea son behind the splitting of the atom was to produce a potent weapon that would end World War Two, a benefit to mankind then and no long-term consequences were considered when American scientists went about doing the i task.
As mentioned above, the atom was split to produce a potent weapon and when this was achieved, it heralded the start of the development of the first atomic bomb in a project known as the Manhattan Project. After the first atomic bomb was successfully developed, two were subsequently dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, on 6th and 9th of August in 1945 respectively. The World witnessed for the first time the massive destruction. wrought by atomic bombs that flattened both cities, and the horrendous after-effects, such as a high increase in cases of cancer and deformities in babies, that lasted for many generations. As can be seen from the above case, the splitting of the atom brought massive destruction, sufferings and sorrow to mankind.
The irony to the whole situation in which nations have started to build more atomic bombs and developed them further into nuclear weapons after the first atomic bomb was dropped, is that instead of serving as agents of destruction, the atomic and nuclear weapons serve as messengers of peace. Scientists, after viewing the destructiveness of such weapons in testing, postulated that a nu clear war would cause such massive destruction world wide that human civilization might be set back for thou sands of years and might even signal the end of the hu man race. With such gloomy forecasts, nations now use their store of nuclear weapons as a deterrent, rather than machines of war. Hence, nuclear weapons may be seen as a means of maintaining peace and preventing wars.
The knowledge that nuclear weapons are the bane of the human race results in popular unrest in countries with a nuclear arsenal and whenever nuclear testings are carried out in these nations or any other countries, a major outcry can be heard coming from both the people and a whole host of nations. As such, many countries possessing nuclear arsenals have signed a pact denouncing clear testing and declaring their stand to stop all near testing in their own respective countries. However, France broke the pact when French President Chirac announced the decision to continue nuclear testing at Muroroa Atoll in the Pacific, a decision that led to a major onslaught from the whole world, noticeably, Pacific nations such as Australia and New Zealand. The sub sequent testing led to massive riotings and demonstrations.
As destructive as the splitting of a mere atom may be, it presents an alternative energy source other than petroleum and coal and yields more energy than can be harvested by solar power stations using current technology. Nuclear energy is currently being promoted as it is clean and does not directly pollute the environment and is relatively problem-free. The most important thing is that a whole city can be powered by just a few grammes of raw materials, instead of tons of petroleum or coal.
However, as wonderful as nuclear power may be, there lies the danger of a nuclear meltdown. Experts say chances are very small due to the high level of caution exerted, seen in the precautions taken and the highly advanced technology used in harvesting nuclear energy. Despite all this, such a disaster did take place in the Chernobyl nu clear power station in the former Soviet Union in the 1980s. One of the nuclear reactors suffered a nuclear meltdown and exploded, causing massive destruction in areas of land around the station and sending a massive radioactive dust cloud throughout mainland Europe. more recent report said that a similar disaster was also narrowly avoided on Long Island in America.
Besides the danger of a nuclear meltdown, another problem of nuclear power is the disposal of the radioactive waste. There is no way to completely dispose of the radioactive waste except to bury them in tightly-sealed containers underground and wait for the radioactivity of these materials to disappear, a process that normally takes thousands of years. Two dangers lie in this procedure. One is the threat of leakage and two, terrorists can easily steal the nuclear waste which are then sold away to countries as raw materials for nuclear weapons. The latter problem is currently surfacing as Russian mafia members are reportedly selling nuclear waste stolen from Ukraine to countries developing a nuclear arsenal. Another problem is the indiscriminate disposal of the nuclear waste. This problem was seen recently in a playground in Britain where radioactive materials were allegedly buried under it.
20 Though it may seem that for every benefit brought by the splitting of the atom, there are many problems, there is one area where there are only benefits; the medical field. Radiation is used in radiotherapy used to treat cancer. X rays are also fully utilized by the medical field in diagnosis. As can be seen, this is one area where the splitting of the atom solely benefits man.
All in all, what is done has been done. The atom has been split by Man and there is no going back to what had been before. What can be done now is to ensure that no new problems will arise and the existing ones kept to a minimum. It is heartening to see Man using the problems to their advantage as in the case of nuclear weapons as deterrents, and much more can be done. Indeed, it is no time for Man to cry over spilt milk, as Pandora did after she opened the box, but to try to eradicate the problem caused by Man himself.
Q2: “Computer games have great appeal but little value.” Discuss.
What nonsense! Nothing can be further from the truth. According to a survey in the New Paper in 1995, 70% of teenagers interviewed listed computer games as one of the ten greatest inventions in the world, alongside with the telephone, steam engine, wheel, etc. This does not merely show the popularity and prevalence of computer games, but also show that they are highly valued.
It is impossible to justify how it can ever be that computer games have little value. Some people argue that a person may derive hours of satisfaction from interacting with computer games but does zero productive work. Therefore it is of no value. That line of argument is very questionable. Just how is value measured? If no money is made from doing that, then is that activity of no value? Do we not, following this line of thought, consider music and art to be worthless activities too? Pleasurable hours may be spent listening to music, or composing or playing them, but it will all add up to little productive output. A great many may think that music and art do add up to a lot of value (by looking at the number of famous artists and musicians and the amount they earn). Well, look at computer games then. Its annual sales can out-rival even music.
Drawing an analogy to art again, computer games, like art, does not always offer tangible, seeable results. That does not mean that art is of little value. Computer games. like art, are recreational activities that develop the mind. In fact, computer games are more than an art. It is the fusing of art and technology into a cohesive unit, blending the creativity, abstractness of art with the razor-sharp precision and reality of technology. Therefore, computer games should be termed ‘techno art’. It is no wonder that the world embraces it with open arms.
No one will doubt that creativity and thinking skills are valuable skills. Yet some doubt the ability of computer games in imparting these values. A computer game needs tremendous creativity and wisdom in governing a simulated city, to make the economy boom, to fight the rising crime rate, all the fun without the fuss of being a real governor, who faces stress and criticisms. He can also fight wars with China, Iraq or America as the president of Singapore, while leading troops to colonize Mars and the moon. Doing all this in the comfort of his arm chair, free of pressure, he can fully utilize his creativity. and act out his fantasies. The real world cannot provide. this route of escape. Some men, being unable to accept the roles they were playing, simply imposed their fantasies on all other people, resulting in wars, bloodshed, unrest. The enlightened man who becomes a computer gamer also finds that he can finally sit in the cockpit of an F-16 fighter soaring through the sky. On his way to becoming a good pilot, he will boost his level of eye hand coordination and fast reflexes, all of this found in sports, In fact, critics of these fast and furious fighting games should have a go at it, so that they can realise their inferior skills which cause their characters’ noses to be all bloodied. The skills learned from playing computer games are akin to the precision needed in basketball and the fast reflexes needed in badminton.
Schools use computer increasingly nowadays to teach the students in a fun way. They have mathematic pro grams where the player has to calculate sums to save the princess, programs where touching a click will allow the player to know more about certain things. Now, if these programs are not called computer games, no one knows what to call them.
Not only so, computer games are the connection be tween the advanced technology of computer and the entertaining purposes of audio and video equipment. If the computer is not used for fun, why bother with developing greater graphics (more pixels, resolution, etc.)? There fore, because of computer games, all these similar developments can merge. That accounts for the spurt in audio video-computer technology growth in the past decade. As an industry itself, computer games generated billions of dollars in turn-over, so it has a certain monetary value: too. Just look at the number of people owning some sort of computer games.
A point to note is that too much of anything is never good, not even water. A person who drinks too much water can actually die. A game player who plays too much will become addicted and suffer deterioration in schoolwork, career, or relations with people. It is important to note that the self control of that person, not the game, is at fault.
Computer games. Love it or hate it, but those who know better, play it, and benefit from it. Computer games have value like art and music and should not be thought of as useless junk. At the same time, computer games never set out to dominate lives, but are just a companion (again, much like art and music) in the path of life.
GP teacher’s comments; Fresher examples are: e-sports, using games to simulate army training, tactical battels, military strategy planning, etc.
Q3: “The most perfect language of humans is Mathematics.” Do you agree?
For as long as the human race has existed, we have been communicating with each other using various languages (including sign and body languages). Over millennia, the variety and complexity of our languages have grown extremely vast. With the growth of our knowledge, we have developed, or rather, discovered a totally new language, Mathematics. Is it the most perfect language of all? With our limited understanding of it, I would venture to say that it is only perfect for certain purposes.
To start off, what makes a language a language? It is something spoken, unspoken or written, which is used for communication between two or more individuals. Conventionally, human languages make use of symbols. which represent sounds, which in turn represent objects, ideas and emotions: a most inefficient and antiquated anachronism, as a mathematician would claim. But wait, what about mathematics? It too, makes use of symbols to represent things, anything that conventional languages can represent. The beauty of mathematics lies in the fact that it is not us, fallible humans, that created it. It was there since the beginning of the existence of our universe, when ever that was. It is the language of Nature and the rhythm of the stars. We merely discovered it, and will continue to learn about it for a long, long time to come. Therein lies its limitations as far as our usage of it is concerned, for the scope of our understanding is narrow.
Any thought, idea, word, anything used in communication can be reduced to a series of binary impulses: on, off; off, on and so on. This is the language of the computers we have developed. It is also the language that the individual cells in our brain use to communicate with each other. It is extremely simple, fast and efficient. It is also free from bias and racial and emotional baggage. Some people have said that if we all speak the language of mathematics, then we would be in harmony with the universe and at peace with ourselves. Mathematics is also extremely precise and free from all the silly little idiosyncrasies of the other human language. There is no ‘maybe’ or ‘sometime later’ but ‘a probability of 62%’ and ‘2 minutes and 51.3 seconds in the future. There is a well-known poem entitled ‘English is a funny language”, and how true it is! A person would ‘tic-up’ something, but is ‘tied down’ with commitments. In sending instructions to a satellite, we do not tell it to “move a little to your right…. a bit more…. there, stop!” but “fire directional thrusters on port side for 3 seconds, rotate 60° clockwise.” My point is that mathematics as a language reduces greatly the chance for miscommunication, mis understanding, and foolish errors. When scientists sent the Voyager spacecraft to the stars, they included a plaque inscribed with mathematical formulae which could be de ciphered by aliens, if there are any, telling them who we are, how we live, our genetic makeup and our peaceful intentions. Mathematics is the great common language that everyone can make use of to communicate.
However, we must take a look at ourselves before rushing out to propagate the binary gospel. Our brains function and work in a very different way from computers. Our brains process information simultaneously and in a parallel fashion, and when we think, we muddle along, groping around the edges of what we think we want, our neuron synapses firing furiously, and suddenly, voila! We hit upon an idea. This is what makes us capable of creative thought. Computers, however, pass information through a series of logic gates, filtering out what is not needed, before drawing on databanks to form a conclusion. We are also unable to communicate using numbers verbally. The whole structure of society would be upended if we did so. We are not able to communicate at the speed of our brain cells or computers, and as many ideas, when reduced to a string of numbers, would be extremely long, communication would get even more inefficient. Thus, we are not physically and mentally able to communicate directly in numbers,
We must therefore, use the right combination of phonetic and numerical languages to communicate. Mathematics is only perfect for usage in technological purposes, in our communication with machines.
Q4: Science has become the pursuit of profit, instead of the pursuit of truth. How far do you agree?
Interpretation of the quote: The profit motive often has a corrupting effect. So while science used to be the virtuous pursuit of the truth, science has become overwhelmed by avarice.
(Still) a pursuit of truth
-Underlying goal or purpose of science to society and individuals is to produce useful models of reality. E.g. social science allows for predictions for complex interactions like economic turbulence.
-Goal of science is not to answer all questions, but only those that pertain to perceived reality. Thus, science is not a source of value judgments, though it can certainly speak to matters of ethics and public policy by pointing to the likely consequences of actions.
-Nevertheless, certain value judgments are intrinsic to science itself: truth, knowledge, cooperation, honesty
Evolution of Science
-A useful tool. A growing body of understanding by which one can contend more effectively with surroundings and to better adapt and evolve as a social whole. -Before Industrial Revolution, science had little bearing on people’s daily lives. Today, science has a profound effect on the way humans interact with and act upon nature, largely through new technology.
Eg household items, automobiles etc. -Such inventions have benefitted mankind. More recent developments have questioned scientists true intentions of profit driven motives. E.g. genetic engineering, cloning, IVF
What drives and steers scientific research? Is science only practised for financial gain?
-growing economic value of technology and industrial research, the economy of any modern country depends on its state of science and technology. -most countries dedicate a significant amount of annual budget to scientific and technological research. (E.g. Sputnik) -practice of science has undergone remarkable changes in the past few centuries.
-most research is currently funded by government or corporate bodies.
-these economic factors have given rise to fraudulent research practices. (e.g. S.Korean cloning researcher Hwang Woo-suk) -scientific research carried out with funding for private corporations is mostly profit driven.
-another source is charitable organisations. (e.g. in 2003 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $70m grant to University of Washington for genetics studies)
Q5: Computers are indispensable in modern life. How far do you agree?
For the past few decades, computers have become increasingly important. Previously, they were gigantic machines which performed limited tasks. Now, their uses are varied. Modern life is increasingly linked to these machines.
The computer plays a very important role in the business world. In financial institutions such as stock ex changes, dealers can hardly do without it. Information from banks and stock markets can be transmitted around the world within a fraction of a second. Dealers and brokers are thus fully aware of the actions of their counter parts in different countries. Information with all the de tails is presented on computer screens and decisions can be made directly. Without such linkages through com trading would stagnate. This would affect capital markets and would have adverse effects on national economies.
In other aspects of business communications, computers are also vital. A multinational company can only be properly managed provided the work done by the different branches around the world does not conflict. Again, it is the speed of computers that helps. This ensures in formation that is communicated from one place to an other is not outdated. Moreover, the huge storage space of computers partly eliminates the need for heavy files. Information that is typed on paper can last as long as the paper. However, information stored in computers is more durable as computers do not deteriorate as fast as plain paper.
Meanwhile, government institutions have improved their efficiency tremendously through the use of computers. Once again, the larger storage space gives computer disks an enormous advantage over paper. In Singapore, the National Libraries and the Housing and Development Board can now retrieve and process information at the press of a button. Queries have been reduced as a result. Without such technological advances, the usual complaints would emerge again. These include the wastage of time in searching for files and a huge amount of paperwork. In modern society, a faster pace of work is essential so as to ensure high productivity.
The use of computers has also abolished the necessity of using workers to do dull and monotonous tasks such as the assembling of manufactured goods, and low level clerical work. This has raised productivity and profits since computer-controlled robots can work at the same pace day and night. However, this is also a major cause of the rising unemployment levels in most developed countries.
Although computers are important, it may not be true to say that modern life cannot function properly without computers. Firstly, for instance, computer games are very popular nowadays but do not always have to be part and parcel of life. More healthy forms of recreations such as sports can replace computer games.
Moreover, although computers can improve communications there are also limitations, as computers lack the human touch. Although people can receive information through bulletin boards merely by sitting in front of a personal computer, each user will not be able to under stand the feelings of the other party since there are no face-to-face meetings. In the business world, meeting people is still very important as views and ideas can be transmitted in a more personal manner. The computer is only used when long distances hamper communications.
Even in entertainment, where computers have created stunning multimedia effects (especially in animated movies), the skills of humanity are still needed. The better quality movies are created not by computers but through the hard work of the directors, actors and technical staff. Meanwhile, in manufacturing, robots and computers are only the tools of people. Research and development in design and product improvement come out of the minds of the individual designers. Moreover, creative products (such as jewellery) can never be manufactured through the use of computers since a unique identity is needed for each product. D
In the field of police work, no one can deny the use fulness of computers in identifying fingerprints. Nevertheless, the work of experienced detectives in trying to understand motives and behaviour is most vital. In court, the essential task of convicting criminals still depends on the mind of a human judge.
In conclusion, it has to be emphasized that computers were invented by humans to perform certain tasks that humans have difficulty in doing. The decision-making and thinking processes can never be replaced by the computer as it cannot formulate its own opinion. Therefore, although the computer has contributed much to the progress of human society, people are still the ones in charge. The computer is a tool of a person and he may be able to do without it.
Comments by general paper tutor: the question can be updated to:
-The internet and computers are indispensable in modern life. Do you agree?
-Social media is indispensable in modern life. Do you agree?
-Mobile phones and apps are indispensable in modern life. Do you agree?
Other areas of discussion: entertainment, games, movies, multimedia, business Stocks, govt, MOE, HDB, CPF, MOH, etc
Also, information, institutions, communications, collaboration, WFH, HBL, replaced workers. fingerprints..
Q6: ‘As Science progresses, mankind regresses’. Do you agree?
As Science advances, what is said to happen to man instead?
. The statement assumes that the developments / enhancements in science and technology, which have elevated man’s stature and standard of living, are supposed to benefit mankind. Instead what does science do?
This is a direct argumentative question. Students are thus to provide opposing viewpoints and relevant counter-arguments. They are also allowed to mostly agree / disagree while specifying the conditions for them to adopt the opposing viewpoint.
The irony of the quote should be tackled throughout, thus both the developments and concerns should be assessed in the same area of science in each case study. To agree, students should not simply list the disadvantages of science. What thus needs to be proven in each paragraph? What do students need to show should they choose to refute the statement?
Possible areas to consider
Genetic Engineering: GM Food Science has progressed:
GM food brings hope to the problem of hunger and treatment of people facing malnutrition or in ameliorating diseases.
. Instead of using the technology to improve the conditions of the poorer nations. It has provided trans-national corporations an opportunity to maximise their profits and exploit the poorer nations.
. GM food not only has not solved the problem of hunger, its promise. of a technical fix for the Third World’s lack of food conceals the unjust distribution of land and of economic and political power which underpin world hunger today. Even with the risks it poses to biodiversity, man continues to pursue this technology
Genetic Engineering: Cloning
Science has progressed:
Genetic engineering has given man the power to modify and improve the genetic codes of living things, including himself, and to treat genetically inherited diseases.
. Developments in stem cell research and cloning have allowed man to tap on the vast potential of stem cells to treat and cure debilitating diseases, as well as for transplantation technology.
. Embryonic stem cell and cloning technologies have led to the destruction of embryos, violating religious and ethical codes on the sanctity of life
. Despite the unresolved social / moral / religious dilemmas and human safety risks raised by these techniques, man continues to fervently pursue them.
If human cloning is finally legalised and be allowed to assume its full form, the ethical implications are tremendous. This marks the end of the sanctity of life and the beginning of mechanisation and exploitation of human life
Knowledge of people’s personal genetic code has led to discrimination like selective employment or possible rejection by life insurance companies.
Medical Technology Science has progressed:
Advancements in medical technology, such as surgical methods and development of new drugs, have vastly improved man’s quality of life and prolonged his life.
Abuse of medical technology, such as ultrasound scans and genetic testing. to benefit limited objectives such as gender selection of children and surrogacy for the cosmetic. aethestic purposes or the sake of convenience.
. Also, use of plastic surgery for purely cosmetic reasons, a trend fast catching on even by teenagers in places like the US, Europe, Korea and Japan
Of the $70 billion is spent each year in researching new drugs, less than 10% is spent on finding solutions for 90% of the world’s health problems. Instead of focusing on the developing life-saving drugs for the Third World, the greatest new drug developments in the last decade has been for problems such as erectile dysfunction.
treatments for male pattern baldness and cholesterol control drug.
Drug development has been skewed towards profit, not need.
Abuse of drugs for recreational purposes (eg. ecstasy, subutex) or for cheating in sports (eg. steroids)
Science has progressed:
. Advancements in military technology have provided countries with the capacity to defend themselves and deter potential aggressors.
Advanced weapons used in warfare have made destruction swift
and more extensive. Biological and chemical weapons have been used to cause destruction on a large scale
Science has progressed:
• In view of fast depleting energy sources and rising carbon emissions, nuclear technology is a promising, cleaner alternative source of energy.
Rogue states, when showing defiance towards international cooperation, can only have one purpose of embarking on nuclear programme – to use such weapons against those perceived as threats
Countries such as Pakistan, North Korea and India have channelled massive amounts of funds to nuclear weapon development. despite lacking funds to solve the more urgent need of its impoverished people
Science has progressed:
In today’s globalised world that demands we remain connected and where time is of the essence when doing trade, advancement in communications technology promises instantaneous ways for us to reach intended parties and convey important messages. It has fuelled the fast evolving world economy and quickened man’s way of life.
Such a technology has taken away the human element in interaction, resulting in us putting less value on the need for personal communication . Also resulted in anti-social habits and lifestyles
The modern world has often been described as a cold, hard place lacking in human touch
Science has progressed:
• The Internet is now a pervasive force in our lives. It provides the much needed source of diverse information, making available alternative viewpoints to derive a more balanced world view.
increasing incidence of computer crimes, both by individuals and by organised groups (eg. terrorists) to steal personal information, to spread misinformation and propaganda, or hatred for certain races or beliefs as well as ideas of extremism
It has been used to spread international crimes and vice involving exploitation of children and women in the sex trade Unsavoury content can also be found on the Internet, eroding values in the process.
GP tuition teacher’s remarks: A fairly easy question, as long as you have sufficient examples.