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Category: 08. 10/24 Big ST and Wars (Page 2 of 2)

Striving for Scientific Dominance

Following WWI, it was evident that countries with less resources, men, and factories had to be more efficient if they were to have a chance in later wars. WWI was fought in the trenches, leading to far too many unwarranted casualties. It is devastating to think about, but men and women quite literally ran into open battlefields knowing they were going to die. Although there are still men filled with valor who are considered “infantry”, they are not being put into the same position that those brave soldiers 100 years ago were. Following WWI, countries wanted to prepare themselves for another World War. However, this time there was more of emphasis placed on weaponry research and chemical warfare than there was on physical training.  The “Space Race” during the Cold War occurred on a more catastrophic scale following WWI. Instead of trying to pluck your nation’s flag on the moon, scientists were trying to formulate the be-all, end-all weapon for their side. Whoever succeeded first would ultimately win the next war.

Albert Einstein’s biggest regret is having a hand in creating the atom bomb. He realized what he had done after he saw the destruction it had caused in Hiroshima and said, “I do not know what weapons will be used in WW3, but WW4 will be fought using sticks and stones.” That’s a powerful statement and it shows that he truly regrets creating the atom bomb. This is an example of scientific innovation that has not benefitted society. Up until now we have really only discussed positive impacts in the scientific community. The atom bomb and this “race” to have the best weaponry breaks ethical codes. I don’t think a bomb more destructive than the atom bomb could be created in our day and age. Someone would have to jump in and stop that cultivation. If it were to enter the wrong hands, someone like Hitler, we may actually be fighting WW4 with stones. Some scientists working under Hitler had no choice, while other were evil and enjoyed what they were doing. Nowadays, it would be impossible for something like the Holocaust to happen again, there are too many things to stop it. The UN, the US, anyone would be able to stop this from happening. Ethics in science are something that should not be taken lightly as science has the power to take away humanity as we know it.

Nuclear Weaponry and Nationalism

The manufacturing and introduction of nuclear power to global wars instigated a series of detrimental effects that lasted long after the end of World War II. The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a direct effect of the toxic nationalism that triggered production of the weaponry initially, but the cultural divides and polarization of economic and political ideologies that expanded as the Cold War ensued was another underlying effect that we can still trace in today’s society. Continue reading

The Impact Of The Race To Space During Global Wars

During the twentieth century, global wars transformed the perception of science and technology. As a result, many countries recognized the need for organizing science on a unified and national front in addition to integrating scientific research with war agendas. In “The Death of Certainty”, co-authors Andrew Ede and Lesley B. Cormack refer to this phenomena as the rise of “Big Science”1.  Most scientific breakthroughs during the twentieth century came from “Big Science” or research funded by major research institutions and federal government as opposed to the contributions of individual scientists. Apart from the global wars, science became part of mainstream popular culture with the race to space. The launching of Sputnik by the Soviet Union was one of the many events that led to the popularization of science.1 Although there were deadly consequences of “Big Science” in global wars, the perception of science shifted and was popularized in the race to space.

As opposed to the development of warfare that often shrouded in secrecy, the race to space was a very public and a less esoteric demonstration of the power of science. In “The Death of Certainty”, Ede and Cormack examine the application of science in weapon versus space research:

“Development of nuclear weapons was in many ways a more complex integration of research and the demands for a ‘useful’ final product….and was presented as so advanced…that it was accessible only to geniuses. The rocket race was, in contrast, a very public demonstration of scientific prowess”.1

In the interest of national security, it is logical for nuclear weapons research to be kept secret and understood by a select few “geniuses”.1 An example of nuclear power prowess is the United States using an atomic bomb to end WWII. In “Science in the Origins of the Cold War”, Naomi Oreskes describes the consequences of this nuclear warfare: “The world would find itself in a permanent state of ‘cold war’” and “not a way of life at all in any true sense”. 2 On the other hand, the “rocket race”1 between the Soviet Union and United States led NASA to become the world’s biggest supporter of scientific research. NASA programs helped change the image of science from a destructive entity to an “adventurous and glamorous”1 field. Science was also made accessible to the general public by television news announcer Walter Cronkite who served as NASA’s voice and image.

As opposed to being a purely lethal entity, the race to space improved the reputation of science. In the context of space exploration, science was seen as a more glamorous and adventurous field. This new perception of science was fueled by NASA programming and Sputnik, which was launched by the Soviet Union. Although scientific interests within the Soviet Union, United States, and other countries during the twentieth century aligned strongly with their warfare needs, the pursuit of space exploration was perceived as a less destructive and exciting application of science.

“The Death of Certainty” and “1957: The Year the World Became a Planet,” in Andrew Ede and Lesley B. Cormack, A History of Science in Society: From Philosophy to Utility, Second Edition(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012), pp. 295–348.

Naomi Oreskes, “Science in the Origins of the Cold War” in Naomi Oreskes and John Krige (eds.), Science and Technology in the Global Cold War(Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2014), 11–30.

Technological Advancement in WWI

Throughout the twentieth-century technological advances have changed warfare and the dynamics of war. To stay ahead of other countries, the United States puts a strong emphasis on the development of technological weapons. The advancement of technology and warfare impacts war, but many people wonder if the progress of warfare in global wars positively impact the world. In this post, I will examine the technological advancement in World War One to explore if the improvements were beneficial or detrimental.

World War One popularized the use of the machine gun and landmines in a way that the world did not see before. Before WWI, movement across the open land was the norm. After the introduction of the machine gun, the move across the open area was a lot more dangerous, and this sparked trench warfare. Also, the British introduced tanks in WWI and this caused for a more powerful approach to land attacks. Chemical gasses were introduced which caused the mass killing of opponents in trenches. These gas attacks were seen as deadly approaches to war and a form of scientific torture at the time. Sea and Air long-distance strikes also became more accurate during WWI. All of these technological advancements caused WWI to be a long war because traditional strategies to battle were challenged. All of the countries were not able to adapt to the technology creating a war in which the winner was the country who could survive the longest.

The advancement of technology in WWI created a shift toward the mass killing ability in Wars. Machine guns could kill rows of soldiers at once, and gas attacks could kill hundreds of soldiers. The advancement of this technology must be seen as negative. The effects of the death tolls from WWI were felt across the globe. Millions had been killed, gassed, maimed, or starved. The shift to modern warfare negatively changed civilization due to the constant worries that war can seriously change the dynamics of everyday life in a given country. The chemical warfare in WWI set the stage for the Atomic Bomb race seen in WWII.

The Aftermath of Global Wars

Global wars in the twentieth century have greatly transformed science and technology in both detrimental and beneficial ways. For example, following the United States’ use of the first ever nuclear bomb in World War 2, the world came to know the true capacity for nuclear warfare. Countries who had not contained nuclear weapons in their arsenal began to implement new technological strategies to ensure their nuclear power and countries who did have nuclear weapons continued to seek technological advancements on their artillery in attempts to obtain global nuclear dominance. I believe that if not for the dropping of nuclear bombs during WW2, it is possible that countries would still have explored nuclear weapons but not nearly to the extent that they did after seeing the true force that those weapons physically have. Therefore, it is easy to see that these impacts can be both beneficial and detrimental.

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