Wider Implications (Edexcel International A Level Physics)

Revision Note

Katie M


Katie M



Wider Implications

  • An implication of physics is a consequence of scientific knowledge
  • The implications could be:
    • Commercial - concerning money e.g., the funding for a scientific experiment
    • Legal - concerning law e.g., copyright protection for data collections
    • Ethical - concerning moral principles e.g., using animals, humans
    • Social - concerning society e.g., how the results affect all members of society (children, elderly, disabled etc.)
  • For example, when building a new power station, although this will provide an appropriate energy source, the implications could be:
    • Commercial - who pays to run and maintain the power station and how much will this cost
    • Legal - planning permissions to build the power station which requires a lot of land
    • Ethical - is it safe for the wildlife that live around the area when the power station is built
    • Social - how will the power station affect the people that live in the surrounding area in both health and economic prospects (e.g., providing more jobs)
  •  All applications of science will have benefits and risks
  • For developing a new type of radiotherapy, designed to treat cancer, the benefits are clear that the treatment could potentially save lives
    • However, there are also risks with accidents occurring when using harmful radiation that could cause injury or death to the doctors or the patient
  • All new technologies are therefore always tested thoroughly
  • Society makes decisions based on scientific evidence
    • This is why the evidence must be thoroughly tested and trusted
  • Scientific work leads to important discoveries that benefit humankind
    • E.g. rigorous testing for medication means we trust that medication is safe consumption to treat symptoms of an illness
  • The results are used by society to make decisions about the way we live, what we eat, what we drive, how we work etc.
  • All sections of society use scientific evidence to make these decisions
    • This is mostly done by policy makers, politicians and government
  • Most individuals making these decisions may not be scientists themselves, so they will be trusting the research to base their opinions on
  • Other factors can influence decisions about science or the way that it is used

Economic Factors

  • The economy is based around money and the cost of implementing changes based on scientific conclusions
  • Not only can experiments be very expensive to run, but the cost of buying technology based on science to provide for healthcare or transport costs a lot of taxpayer money
  • Therefore, when research is expensive, the Government must justify spending money on new equipment, such as a telescope, instead of another area of society such as schools or the healthcare system
  • However, the long-term benefits should also be taken into account
    • For example, reducing carbon emissions to limit the human contribution to climate change
    • In this case, the current human contribution to climate change will be provided from scientific research, as well as methods to reduce carbon emissions (e.g., solar power)

Social Factors

  • Social factors are considered for decisions that affect people's daily life
    • This could be how it affects the surrounding area where people live, such as noise pollution
  • These factors should take into account all members of society, whether they're young, old, disabled and for all genders
  • An example of this is scientific knowledge of a healthy lifestyle informing the choices we make
    • E.g., Cycling to work instead of driving in order to exercise and reduce carbon footprints

Environmental Factors

  • Environmental factors are taken into account for any decisions that could affect the environment
    • This is primarily nature such as plants and animals and the geography of the area
  • An example of this is wind farms
    • Although they are cheap and environmentally friendly (wind is a sustainable energy source) way to generate electricity, the turbines can harm birds and bats

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Katie M

Author: Katie M

Katie has always been passionate about the sciences, and completed a degree in Astrophysics at Sheffield University. She decided that she wanted to inspire other young people, so moved to Bristol to complete a PGCE in Secondary Science. She particularly loves creating fun and absorbing materials to help students achieve their exam potential.

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