Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vision of science and war in the 1930s

All the nations have been involved in wars at some point of time and as time passes all of them have become more powerful and advanced. Now a days all nations have more sophisticated weapons, more advanced defense mechanism, thanks to Science and technology .Science and Technology has made substantial impact on the field of wars and the year 1930s have seen a major advances in technology in warfare.
At the time of WWII, on proposal of Vannevar Bush, President Roosevelt formed a new organization, called the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC), which would bring together government, military, business, and scientific leaders to coordinate military research and bush as its chairman .This committee led research in developing new weapons bush supervised the Manhattan project and developed the first atomic bomb and thus securing victory of the allies. Bush's work not only helped the Allies win the war, but it changed the way scientific research was done in the U.S. Bush demonstrated that technology was the key to winning a war, and in turn earned a new respect for scientists. Post- war, Bush argued that the nation would still need permanent support for research.In his reply President Roosevelt request he said
“It is my judgment that the national interest in scientific research and scientific education can best be promoted by the creation of a National Research Foundation.”

Nobert Wiener,focussed on the problem of destroying enemy airplanes. He designed the “antiaircraft (AA) predictor” which would characterize an enemy pilot’s zigzagging flight, anticipate his future position, and launch an antiaircraft shell to destroy his plane. The model then emerged as new part of science, the science of regulating systems, CYBERNATICS. Cybernetics is derived from the Greek word for steersman or helmsman, who provides the control system for a boat or ship. The anti-aircraft gun demonstrates the cybernetic principle of feedback. It is information about the results of a process which is used to change the process. The radar provided information about the changes in location of the enemy airplane and this information was used to correct the aiming of the gun .Wiener brought to bear his own established interest in feedback mechanisms, communication technology, and nonlinear processes. Here we track the ontological claims of cybernetics into a collocation of vacuum tubes, resistors and condensers designed to replicate the intentions of a hidden enemy pilot. All the enemies were not alike. To the Americans, British, and Australians, the Japanese soldiers were often thought of a lice, ants, or vermin to be eradicated. They followed the slogan “Kill him or he will kill you”

The three closely related sciences which engaged in calculating the enemy were: Operational research, game theory, and cybernetics. Operational research focused on maximizing the efficiency in locating and destroying German U boats in the North Atlantic and along and along the coast of America. Game theory is the way of analyzing what two opposing forces ought to do when each expected the other to act in a maximally rational way but were ignorant both of the opponent's specific intentions and of the enemy's choice of where to bluff. Weiner divided the enemies into two categories, and regarded them as devils. One was the "Manichean devil" "who is determined on victory and will use any trick of craftiness or dissimulation to obtain this victory." The other, the "Augustinian devil" was characterized by the "evil" of chance and disorder but could not change the rules unlike the “Manichean devil”.
In present times, the role of science and technology, particularly cybernetics, has increased manifold and has made war and science closely related.

·        Cybernetic Warfare: Computers and the Cold War  by C Warfare
·        The Ontology of the Enemy: Norbert Wiener and the Cybernetic Vision
·        As we may think

Prajul Bagri

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