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The technological advancement made during the cold war essay

History of War

The 20th century Technology from 1900 to 1945 Recent history is notoriously difficult to write, because of the mass of material and the problem of distinguishing the significant from the insignificant among events that have virtually the power of contemporary experience. In respect to the recent history of technology, however, one fact stands out clearly: The airplane, the rocket and interplanetary probes, electronics, atomic power, antibiotics, insecticides, and a host of new materials have all been invented and developed to create an unparalleled social situation, full of possibilities and dangers, which would have been virtually unimaginable before the present century.

In venturing to interpret the events of the 20th century, it will be convenient to separate the years before 1945 from those that followed. The years 1900 to 1945 were dominated by the two World Wars, while those since 1945 were preoccupied by the need to avoid another major war.

The dividing point is one of outstanding social and technological significance: There were profound political changes in the 20th century related to technological capacity and leadership.

It was a rise based upon tremendous natural resources exploited to secure increased productivity through widespread industrialization, and the success of the United States in achieving this objective was tested and demonstrated in the two World Wars.

Technological leadership passed from Britain and the European nations to the United States in the course of these wars. This is not to say that the springs of innovation went dry in Europe. Many important inventions of the 20th century originated there. But it was the United States that had the capacity to assimilate innovations and take full advantage from them at times when other countries were deficient in one or other of the vital social resources without which a brilliant invention cannot be converted into a commercial success.

  • Early equipment was crude, but within a few years striking progress was made in improving the means of transmitting and receiving coded messages;
  • In the 20th century steel alloys multiplied;
  • The automobile and electric power, for instance, radically changed both the scale and the quality of 20th-century life, promoting a process of rapid urbanization and a virtual revolution in living through mass production of household goods and appliances.

As with Britain in the Industrial Revolutionthe technological vitality of the United States in the 20th century was demonstrated less by any particular innovations than by its ability to adopt new ideas from whatever source they come.

The two World Wars were themselves the most important instruments of technological as well as political change in the 20th century. The rapid evolution of the airplane is a striking illustration of this process, while the appearance of the tank in the first conflict and of the atomic bomb in the second show the same signs of response to an urgent military stimulus.

In other respects the two wars hastened the development of technology by extending the institutional apparatus for the encouragement of innovation by both the state and private industry. This process went further in some countries than in others, but no major belligerent nation could resist entirely the need to support and coordinate its scientific-technological effort.

It was one of the most momentous transformations of the 20th century, for it altered the quality of industrial and social organization. In the process it assured technology, for the first time in its long history, a position of importance and even honour in social esteem.

Fuel and power There were no fundamental innovations in fuel and power before the breakthrough of 1945, but there were several significant developments in techniques that had originated in the previous century.

An outstanding development of this type was the internal-combustion enginewhich was continuously improved to the technological advancement made during the cold war essay the needs of road vehicles and airplanes.

The high-compression engine burning heavy-oil fuels, invented by Rudolf Diesel in the 1890s, was developed to serve as a submarine power unit in World War I and was subsequently adapted to heavy road haulage duties and to agricultural tractors. Moreover, the sort of development that had transformed the reciprocating steam engine into the steam turbine occurred with the internal-combustion engine, the gas turbine replacing the reciprocating engine for specialized purposes such as aero-engines, in which a high power-to-weight ratio is important.

Admittedly, this adaptation had not proceeded very far by 1945, although the first jet-powered aircraft were in service by the end of the war. But the construction of a satisfactory gas-turbine engine was delayed for a decade by the lack of resources, and particularly by the need to develop new metal alloys that could withstand the high temperatures generated in the engine.

This problem was solved by the development of a nickel-chromium alloy, and, with the gradual solution of the other problems, work went on in both Germany and Britain to seize a military advantage by applying the jet engine to combat aircraft.

Gas-turbine engine The principle of the gas turbine is that of compressing and burning air and fuel in a combustion chamber and using the exhaust jet from this process to provide the reaction that propels the engine forward.

The 20th century

In its turbopropeller form, which developed only after World War IIthe exhaust drives a shaft carrying a normal airscrew propeller. Compression is achieved in a gas-turbine engine by admitting air through a the technological advancement made during the cold war essay rotor.

In the so-called ramjet engine, intended to operate at high speeds, the momentum of the engine through the air achieves adequate compression. The gas turbine has been the subject of experiments in road, rail, and marine transport, but for all purposes except that of air transport its advantages have not so far been such as to make it a viable rival to traditional reciprocating engines.

Petroleum As far as fuel is concerned, the gas turbine burns mainly the middle fractions kerosene, or paraffin of refined oil, but the general tendency of its widespread application was to increase still further the dependence of the industrialized nations on the producers of crude oilwhich became a raw material of immense economic value and international political significance.

The refining of this material itself underwent important technological development. Until the 20th century it consisted of a fairly simple batch process whereby oil was heated until it vaporized, when the various fractions were distilled separately. Apart from improvements in the design of the stills and the introduction of continuous-flow production, the first big advance came in 1913 with the introduction of thermal cracking. This process took the less volatile fractions after distillation and subjected them to heat under pressure, thus cracking the heavy molecules into lighter molecules and so increasing the yield of the most valuable fuel, petrol or gasoline.

The discovery of this ability to tailor the products of crude oil to the technological advancement made during the cold war essay the market marks the true beginning of the petrochemical industry. It received a further boost in 1936, with the introduction of catalytic cracking. By the use of various catalysts in the process, means were devised for still further manipulating the molecules of the hydrocarbon raw material. The development of modern plastics followed directly on this see below Plastics.

So efficient had the processes of utilization become that by the end of World War II the petrochemical industry had virtually eliminated all waste materials.

Petroleum refinery at Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia. The 20th century witnessed a colossal expansion of electrical power generation and distribution. The general pattern has been toward ever-larger units of production, using steam from coal- or oil-fired boilers. Economies of scale and the greater physical efficiency achieved as higher steam temperatures and pressures were attained both reinforced this tendency.

Experience in the United States indicates the trend: As the market for electricity increased, so did the distance over which it was transmitted, and the efficiency of transmission required higher and higher voltages. The small direct-current generators of early urban power systems were abandoned in favour of alternating-current systems, which could be adapted more readily to high voltages.

Transmission over a line of 155 miles 250 km was established in California in 1908 at 110,000 volts, and Hoover Dam in the 1930s used a line of 300 miles 480 km at 287,000 volts. The latter case may serve as a reminder that hydroelectric powerusing a fall of water to drive water turbines, was developed to generate electricity where the climate and topography make it possible to combine production with convenient transmission to a market.

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Remarkable levels of efficiency were achieved in modern plants. One important consequence of the ever-expanding consumption of electricity in the industrialized countries has been the linking of local systems to provide vast power grids, or pools, within which power can be shifted easily to meet changing local needs for current. Atomic power Until 1945, electricity and the internal-combustion engine were the dominant sources of power for industry and transport in the 20th century, although in some parts of the industrialized world steam power and even older prime movers remained important.

Early research in nuclear physics was more scientific than technological, stirring little general interest. In fact, from the work of Ernest RutherfordAlbert Einsteinand others to the first successful experiments in splitting heavy atoms in Germany in 1938, no particular thought was given to engineering potential.

The war led the Manhattan Project to produce the fission bomb that was first exploded at Alamogordo, N. Only in its final stages did even this program become a matter of technology, when the problems of building large reactors and handling radioactive materials had to be solved.

At this point it also became an economic and political matter, because very heavy capital expenditure was involved. Thus, in the technological advancement made during the cold war essay crucial event of the mid-20th century, the convergence of science, technology, economics, and politics finally took place.

Industry and innovation There were technological innovations of great significance in many aspects of industrial production during the 20th century.

"Technological Advancements During World War I"

It is worth observing, in the first place, that the basic matter of industrial organization became one of self-conscious innovation, with organizations setting out to increase their productivity by improved techniques. Methods of work study, first systematically examined in the United States at the end of the 19th century, were widely applied in U.

The object of these exercises was to make industry more efficient and thus to increase productivity and profits, and there can be no doubt that they were remarkably successful, if not quite as successful as some of their advocates maintained. Without this superior industrial organization, it would not have been possible to convert the comparatively small workshops of the 19th the technological advancement made during the cold war essay into the giant engineering establishments of the 20th, with their mass-production and assembly-line techniques.

The rationalization of production, so characteristic of industry in the 20th century, may thus be legitimately regarded as the result of the application of new techniques that form part of the history of technology since 1900. Improvements in iron and steel Another field of industrial innovation in the 20th century was the production of new materials. As far as volume of consumption goes, humankind still lives in the Iron Agewith the utilization of iron exceeding that of any other material.

But this dominance of iron has been modified in three ways: Alloys had already begun to become important in the iron and steel industry in the 19th century apart from steel itself, which is an alloy of iron and carbon.

Self-hardening tungsten steel was first produced in 1868 and manganese steel, possessing toughness rather than hardness, in 1887.

Manganese steel is also nonmagnetic; this fact suggests great possibilities for this steel in the electric power industry. In the 20th century steel alloys multiplied. Silicon steel was found to be useful because, in contrast to manganese steel, it is highly magnetic.

In 1913 the first stainless steels were made in England by alloying steel with chromium, and the Krupp works in Germany produced stainless steel in 1914 with 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel.

The importance of a nickel-chromium alloy in the development of the gas-turbine engine in the 1930s has already been noted. Many other alloys also came into widespread use for specialized purposes. Building materials Methods of producing traditional materials like glass and concrete on a larger scale also supplied alternatives to iron, especially in building; in the form of reinforced concrete, they supplemented structural iron.

  • By this time excellent close-range photographs had been secured by the United States Rangers 7, 8, and 9, which crashed into the Moon in the second half of 1964 and the first part of 1965; and between 1966 and 1967 the series of five Lunar Orbiters photographed almost the entire surface of the Moon from a low orbit in a search for suitable landing places;
  • The first spectacular step was Sputnik 1, a sphere with an instrument package weighing 184 pounds 83 kilograms , launched into space by the Soviets on Oct;
  • The airplane, the rocket and interplanetary probes, electronics, atomic power, antibiotics, insecticides, and a host of new materials have all been invented and developed to create an unparalleled social situation, full of possibilities and dangers, which would have been virtually unimaginable before the present century;
  • It is lightweight, easy to use and hard-wearing.

Most of the entirely new materials were nonmetallic, although at least one new metal, aluminumreached proportions of large-scale industrial significance in the 20th century. The ores of this metal are among the most abundant in the crust of the Earth, but, before the provision of plentiful cheap electricity made it feasible to use an electrolytic process on an industrial scale, the metal was extracted only at great expense.

The strength of aluminum, compared weight for weight with steel, made it a valuable material in aircraft construction, and many other industrial and domestic uses were found for it.

In 1900 world production of aluminum was 3,000 tons, about half of which was made using cheap electric power from Niagara Falls. Production rose rapidly since. Electrolytic processes had already been used in the preparation of other metals. At the beginning of the 19th century, Davy pioneered the process by isolating potassium, sodium, barium, calcium, and strontium, although there was little commercial exploitation of these substances.

By the the technological advancement made during the cold war essay of the 20th century, significant amounts of magnesium were being prepared electrolytically at high temperatures, and the electric furnace made possible the production of calcium carbide by the reaction of calcium oxide lime and carbon coke.

In another electric furnace process, calcium carbide reacted with nitrogen to form calcium cyanamide, from which a useful synthetic resin could be made. Plastics The quality of plasticity is one that had been used to great effect in the crafts of metallurgy and ceramics. The use of the word plastics as a collective noun, however, refers not so much to the traditional materials employed in these crafts as to new substances produced by chemical reactions and molded or pressed to take a permanent rigid shape.

The first such material to be manufactured was Parkesinedeveloped by the British inventor Alexander Parkes. The early plastics relied upon the large molecules in cellulose, usually derived from wood pulp. Baekelanda Belgian American inventor, introduced a new class of large molecules when he took out his patent for Bakelite in 1909.

Bakelite is made by the reaction between formaldehyde and phenolic materials at high temperatures; the substance is hard, infusible, and chemically resistant the type known as thermosetting plastic. As a nonconductor of electricity, it proved to be exceptionally useful for all sorts of electrical appliances. The success of Bakelite gave a great impetus to the plastics industry, to the study of coal tar derivatives and other hydrocarbon compoundsand to the theoretical understanding of the structure of complex molecules.

This activity led to new dyestuffs and detergents, but it also led to the successful manipulation of molecules to produce materials with particular qualities such as hardness or flexibility.

Technological and industrial history of the United States

Techniques were devised, often requiring catalysts and elaborate equipment, to secure these polymers—that is, complex molecules produced by the aggregation of simpler structures. Linear polymers give strong fibres, film-forming polymers have been useful in paints, and mass polymers have formed solid plastics.

Synthetic fibres The possibility of creating artificial fibres was another 19th-century discovery that did not become commercially significant until the 20th century, when such fibres were developed alongside the solid plastics to which they are closely related. The first artificial textiles had been made from rayona silklike material produced by extruding a solution of nitrocellulose in acetic acid into a coagulating bath of alcohol, and various other cellulosic materials were used in this way.