Science Can Get Kind of Political Too

This semester I'm taking a class called "Technology in American History". Currently we are discussing the meaning of the word "technology" and how it can never be separated from the culture in which it exists.
One specific idea that we discussed was how technology in and of itself (and not just the creators and their motives) can be political. The best example of this is in Long Island in New York City, NY; there, the road overpasses are much lower than what is normally found elsewhere in the country. The reason for this wasn't based on cost, engineering design, or aesthetics; it was purely a political move. Apparently, the chief designer/engineer overseeing the design of the bridge was prejudiced against blacks and other minorities, and the new roads going under existing roads (necessitating the construction of overpasses in the old roads over the new roads) led to better, more wealthy parts of Long Island. He wanted to keep minorities out of those better parts of town, so he made the overpasses low enough that cars, mostly owned in Long Island by generally wealthier white people at that time, but not buses, mostly used in Long Island by generally poorer minorities at that time, could get through. I never knew that technology itself could overtly embody an agenda, but this example has really opened my eyes.
But one thing we agreed on in class is that in general, the sciences are a little more removed from the culture surrounding them, although there are pretty visible exceptions to this as well. I'm here to confirm this with one example from another class that I'm taking. I'm not talking about controversies like stem cell research, evolution, or anything like that.
Currently, I'm also taking Physics II Electricity & Magnetism. The class's lecture as well as my recitation leader are both theoretical physicists. They have insisted on using the CGS (centimeter-gram-second) system of units as opposed to the more familiar and common SI (Système International i.e. metric system) units. Why? Apparently CGS units are the system of choice for theoretical physicists. Yet as a student, not only do I have to learn new material, which is all good and fine, but I also have to learn it alongside a totally new system of units, which in electricity and magnetism is often not at all analogous to SI units. For example, in SI units the unit of current (the Ampere) is a base unit and is not derived from any other units. However, in CGS units the units of charge and current are both derived from units of mass, length, and time, which complicates things a lot both in terms of formulas and calculations. Given that almost all the students in this class are most familiar with using SI units in science calculations and have learned electricity & magnetism formulas and quantities in SI units, what's the point of needlessly introducing a totally different system along with more challenging material? I really enjoy my physics class lecturer and I think he's a great guy, but I think this shows that he has an agenda of some sort. It's sort of like how my chemistry professor last term started teaching us crystal field/ligand field theory and organometallic chemistry because it's his area of expertise (and he won a Nobel Prize for his work in organometallic chemistry); he was even pretty upfront about that being the reason why he was teaching us stuff that really didn't belong in a freshman introductory chemistry course.
The conclusion is that I just needed to vent about how confusing the CGS system can get at times. Sorry about that.

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