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Natural Science
NATS 1775
Vera Pavri

Copyright 2009 © Vera Pavri Lecture 11: Science, Technology and WWII I. The Rise of “Big Science Projects” Interwar period sets foundations for new era of “big science” projects that will become a staple of WWII and post war period. What is Big Science? According to Historians Ciesla & Trischler: a. one project that is often based around a single apparatus; fusion of different scientific-technical disciplines b. extensive and intensive use of both financial and human resources c. projects financed by the state (greater involvement) d. projects are both short, middle and long-term but are expected to produce concrete results e. industries conduct both basic and applied research f. political and social goals are stated as justification for development of certain projects g. political goals are combined with fact that scientists have greater autonomy in setting work goals II. US Research and Development Prior to their Entry into WWII - Vannevar Bush – Chair of National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics - realizes Nazi threat; does not think US is adequately equipped to handle Germany’s advanced air force - formation of National Defense Research Council in 1940; made a branch of the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) in 1941 - Bush becomes chair of this office - members of NDRC include: Frank Jewett (President, NAS); James Conant (chemist and President of Harvard); Karl Compton (President, MIT) - joined by members of army, navy and air force - group did not feel comfortable relying on individual efforts in producing technologies for war; form separate inventor’s council - instead, group wants to give contracts to corporations, institutions and individuals with proven track records in productive research - total spent on R&D by OSRD: 337M; non-corporate institutions that benefited included MIT, Cal Tech, Harvard, Columbia, UC, John Hopkins 1 Copyright 2009 © Vera Pavri - corps: Western Electric (manufacturing arm of AT&T), Research Construction Corporation, GE, RCA, Westinghouse, Remington Rand, Eastman Kodak - emphasis placed on electronic goods as opposed to more traditional materials used in war that companies like GM produced - technologies of the future: radar, proximity fuses, computers - development of Atomic bomb (see below) leads to development of space program (hydrogen bomb, Star Wars, Strategic Defense Initiative) - combining industrial, educational resources under military umbrella becomes foundation for future of US technology - military-industrial complex (term coined during Cold War): science has increasingly bigger role in society; interdependence of science and technology; increasing demands for more money, individuals and instruments for research, state use of research - example: Research and Development (RAND) corporation set up to keep Air Force “in game” of new technological development because they do not have their own research facilities III. Airplanes a. Civil Aviation - technology improves during interwar period - i.e. water cooled engines replaced by air-cooled engines - leads to decrease in costs because engine is lighter and can go faster - material changes: wood to metal - wing flaps allow heavier and more powerful planes to land safely - Boeing, Douglas rely on military support (US Navy) during interwar period to support their research and development - technology designed for military could then be used for civilian purposes - commercial aviation required following: development of airports, chartered airways, safety laws, weather service, beacons for night flights - commercial aviation in place by 1920s but only takes off in 1930s; predominant use of planes until this time was for mail - many companies like American, TWA, Delta, Northwest and United were initially a branch of an airplane manufacturing entity; separate because of anti-trust laws in US in 1930s - passenger driven aviation aided by development of Douglas DC-3 in 1936 - cost ¼ what it did to carry passengers in 1929 - flies farther, faster, carries more passengers, is safer b. Jet Engine Technology - research starts on jet engine in 1930s - long range bombers developed for war eventually used for civilian flights; cuts in ½ costs per passenger mile 2 Copyright 2009 © Vera Pavri - however, hard to make them go faster - could go as fast as 440 miles an hour, but greater speeds impossible because propellers cannot withstand pressure - design of jet engine – prefigured in water turbines that produce electricity - combustion causes plane to move forward by forcing jet of air out of rear of engine - jet turns small turbine, powers compressor that pulls required air into engine - design problems overcome when English government funds project; first practical jet engine appears by 1939 - competition between military during war years allow for solutions to problems of jet propulsion; without war developments would have been delayed by decades - in 1943, Boeing becomes first US company to work on jet - although they were initially behind Soviet and British industries, because they had a much larger industrial research base, they are able to solve design problems more rapidly - also helped by hefty cold war budget: 90% of airplane research funded by military by 1960s - Boeing 707 put into commercial market by 1958; US jet is more faster and power than European ones IV. Radar - Radar = RAdio Detection And Range - It is a system that uses radio waves to detect and determine the distance, direction and/or speed of objects like aircraft, ships, etc… - A transmitter is used to emit radio waves that are aimed at a target; these waves are then reflected by the object (target) and are detected by a receiver - Prior to WWII, countries like Britain and Germany had radar technology that would allow them to detect aircraft, etc... via radio devices - In 1937 the B
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