By David C. Cassidy
Because the 20th century drew to an in depth, desktops, the net, and nanotechnology have been principal to fashionable American lifestyles. but the advances in physics underlying those purposes are poorly understood and broadly underappreciated through U.S. voters this present day. during this concise evaluate, David C. Cassidy sharpens our viewpoint on smooth physics by means of viewing this foundational technology in the course of the lens of America’s engagement with the political occasions of a tumultuous century.American physics first stirred within the 1890s—around the time x-rays and radioactivity have been came across in Germany—with the founding of graduate faculties at the German version. but American learn lagged at the back of the good eu laboratories till powerful family rules, including the exodus of physicists from fascist international locations, introduced the state into the 1st ranks of global learn within the Thirties. The construction of the atomic bomb and radar in the course of international battle II ensured lavish executive help for particle physics, in addition to computation, solid-state physics, and armed forces communique. those advances facilitated house exploration and ended in the worldwide enlargement of the Internet.Well into the Nineteen Sixties, physicists strengthened the us’ overseas prestige, and the kingdom repaid the desire via substantial outlays of federal, army, and philanthropic investment. yet progressively the US relinquished its postwar dedication to medical management, and the kingdom chanced on itself suffering to keep up a aggressive side in technology schooling and examine. this present day, American physicists, depending totally on commercial investment, needs to compete with smaller, scrappier countries purpose on writing their very own short background of physics within the twenty-first century.
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Hale noted that the war had “forced science to the front” (with plenty of help from Hale), and not only in government and industrial laboratories. By the end of the war, the army and navy (the only military branches at that time) were sponsoring research for the first time in academic laboratories at forty American colleges. 12 Even though most physicists and chemists immediately returned to civilian life at the end of the war, the pattern was set and the lessons learned for the rapid integration of scientific research into the war effort.
Hale and Millikan conceived of the NRC as an elite organization of private academics, although now with the public goal of organizing and promoting programs in military research. Still in sympathy with Rowland’s aversion to any political or social involvement, the science managers sought to render the NRC independent of any government influence or direction by relying solely on the august National Academy of Sciences for authority and on Carnegie, Rockefeller, and similar private foundations for funding.
Germany’s introduction of poison gas created by German chemists and the use of science for the technologies of submarines, airplanes, mines, and enhanced artillery were regarded by many as moral violations of natural law. ”1 Despite Henry Rowland’s similar outlook, most American science leaders did not seem bothered by such thoughts, nor were they content to remain neutral. They saw the war as a chance for the country, if it entered the war, to become an influential world power; and they saw it as a chance for American science to rise with the nation to higher status and influence on the domestic and international stages.
A Short History of Physics in the American Century by David C. Cassidy