Monday, March 14, 2011

"What was the vision for science and War in the 1930's. Have things changed since then?"

  Technology and science plays a very prominent role during wars, day by day the involvement of science in wars .Not only in wars but also in various fields we are becoming more dependent on technology .But in the 19th century the change is high. During the time of world wars so many new inventions have taken place which led to research and development of new technology.

World War II
The U.S. was not prepared for the Second World War. Little was spent on military research. The military research that was done was done by military personnel and often duplicated between the different branches. By 1940, Bush and other American scientists felt that the country needed a new organization to conduct military research.
On June 12, 1940, Bush met with President Roosevelt and detailed his plan for mobilizing military research. He proposed a new organization he called the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC). The committee would bring together government, military, business, and scientific leaders to coordinate military research. Roosevelt quickly agreed and thus the NDRC was created. Bush was made chairman and given a direct line to the White House. In mid-1941, The Office of Scientific Research and Development was set up. The NDRC had been funded by presidential emergency funds and was often short on money. The OSRD was congressionally funded. The NDRC was subsumed under the OSRD as its chief operating unit. Bush became director of the OSRD.
The NDRC and then the OSRD were originally set up to support and augment Army and Navy research, but by the end of the war the OSRD was leading military research. Many useful innovations resulted from OSRD research and development including improvements in radar, the proximity fuse, anti-submarine tactics, and various secret devices for the OSS (the precursor of the CIA). 

The War Ends
By late 1944, Allied victory was inevitable. Bush began to look to the future. He believed that after the war the nation would still need permanent support for research. In March 1945, Bush drafted an article entitled, "Science-The Endless Frontier." He outlined the importance of continued support for research. He called for a National Research Foundation that "should develop and promote a national policy for scientific research and scientific education, should support basic research in nonprofit organizations, should develop scientific talent in American youth by means of scholarships and fellowships, and should by contract and otherwise support long -range research on military matters" (Bush, 28). His dreams for were never fully realized, but in 1950 the National Science Foundation (NSF) was created. The NSF did not quite fulfill Bush's expectations. It was not as powerful as his proposal called for. Nonetheless, the marriage between science and government was secured.
Followed by Bush, here comes Nobert Wiener who coined the term cybernetics, a new science of control mechanisms in which the exchange of information would play a central role. He focused 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 with the help of Radar, and launch an antiaircraft shell to destroy his plane. The model then emerged as new part of science, the science of control systems, CYBERNETICS.

The scientific research done definitely helped the U.S. and its allies win the war. Bush also changed the way basic scientific research was done in the U.S. From this it is  proved that technology is key to winning a war, also institutionalization of the relationship between government, business, and the scientific community.

D Sai Prashanth

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