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Tag: War

Chemical Warfare Implications

The World Wars of the twentieth century had major implications on scientific and technological advancements as chemical warfare sparked a race for destruction. Chemical warfare is the only explanation for the immensely high death toll; over 75 million people died in a time frame equal to about a decade.  By simply analyzing the numbers, but more importantly those from World War II, it can be understood that the developments made in chemical warfare were what made that possible.

The elements of war at the time were what led to scientific and technological advances: how can we kill as much of the enemy as possible without putting our men in harms way? Scientists were pushed to the limit, simply being told to create weapons that would take the most human lives at once. Weapons were created that could wipe out entire regiments of soldiers with the click of a button. Consequently, the horrific outcome of both wars was driven by the desire to win. Nations were compelled to act in ways never yet seen before: this was most prevalent with the dropping of the atomic bomb. The United States government sanctioned the use of a weapon that took thousands of civilian lives, something we had never seen until that point. It was a display of scientific and technological dominance. The decision came out of desperation, and there is no question about that. The results of Pearl Harbor left the United States as a nation desperate for a way out. The atomic bomb gave our government that opportunity. The creators of the bomb recognized its’ scientific significance: “the atomic bomb was so terrifying that it would put an end to conventional warfare, but that, counterintuitively, this was not good, because the bomb would put in its stead a hideous peace as “horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity” (Oreskes). The idea was understood but its’ true implications were not. The dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan in Hiroshima and Nagasaki triggered the race for nuclear power and eventually, the Cold War. Because of that, the advancements made during the global wars were in fact detrimental to our society. The scientific and technological advancements made led to hysteria around the world. Nations began to compete for power, and soon countries possessed enough nuclear weapons to wipe out half of the world. Discoveries made in the mid twentieth century became the weaponry of the future, and has proved to be more destructive and more powerful than anything else.

War & Its Role in Defining Scientific Purpose

Science and technology have transformed the way in which we approach some of the biggest issues we face in today’s world, including that of national security. Technological advancements in recent decades have undoubtedly shaped our approaches to war, particularly with regards to the means of warfare. Spears, bows and arrows have been replaced with atomic bombs, nuclear weapons and missiles thereby revolutionizing the concept of war. However, the often overlooked aspect of this transformation is its impacts on the field of science itself. The demand for more advanced war equipment and tighter national security has shifted the rhetoric of the scientific field, providing it with a newfound sense of purpose and identity.

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The twentieth century was filled with many wars and disputes that drastically impacted the world. The social implications are obvious, as we experienced two world wars and a potential third- the cold war- throughout the 1900s. But it takes deeper understanding and thinking to realize that there were many technological and scientific breakthroughs during this time.
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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.

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