By David C. Cassidy
Because the 20th century drew to an in depth, pcs, the web, and nanotechnology have been imperative to fashionable American lifestyles. but the advances in physics underlying those purposes are poorly understood and commonly underappreciated by means of U.S. electorate at the present time. during this concise evaluation, David C. Cassidy sharpens our standpoint on smooth physics by way 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 found in Germany—with the founding of graduate faculties at the German version. but American examine lagged in the back of the nice eu laboratories until eventually powerful family regulations, including the exodus of physicists from fascist nations, introduced the country into the 1st ranks of worldwide study within the Thirties. The construction of the atomic bomb and radar in the course of international warfare II ensured lavish govt aid for particle physics, in addition to computation, solid-state physics, and armed forces verbal exchange. those advances facilitated area exploration and resulted in the worldwide growth of the Internet.Well into the Sixties, physicists reinforced the us’ overseas prestige, and the country repaid the desire via immense outlays of federal, army, and philanthropic investment. yet progressively the US relinquished its postwar dedication to clinical management, and the country discovered itself suffering to keep up a aggressive facet in technology schooling and examine. at the present time, American physicists, depending totally on commercial investment, needs to compete with smaller, scrappier international locations cause on writing their very own short historical past of physics within the twenty-first century.
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Additional resources for A Short History of Physics in the American Century
13 Such an expansion required an increased supply of American Physics Comes of Age 33 new graduates and doctorates in physics and chemistry, which required in turn an increase in the number of academic research jobs for the physics professors to teach them. By 1920 a doctorate had become almost a prerequisite for entering the field. According to data compiled by Margaret Rossiter, in 1921 roughly 80 percent of all male physicists (864) but only 63 percent (15) of the 24 female physicists held a doctorate in physics.
Those lessons came in handy the next time the nation found itself at war. And, the next time, a new group of scientist-politicians was ready to guide physics once again into a secure position within the military chain of command. But as the nation entered the postwar world of the 1920s, the status of American physics as an equal partner was hampered by its obvious secondrate position on the international stage behind Europe, and especially behind the nation’s number-one wartime enemy— Germany. m.
Many also ascribed to the progressive view of war that had brought Wilson to the presidency: that war represented a reversion to humanity’s barbaric past. War was unworthy of modern civilized nations enlightened by the force of reason, especially the force of scientific reason. For many educated people, the application of science to warfare was simply unthinkable. 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.
A Short History of Physics in the American Century by David C. Cassidy