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The United States government has been a major player in the science and technology industry since the Second World War era. World war two brought about a spike in scientific interest between the United States and its allies. From radars, sonars, proximity fuse, early computers, and synthetic rubber to penicillin, sulfa drugs, atomic bombs and many important innovations that contributed to the nation wartime efforts. Amongst the historical episodes of the 20th century related to science and technology, the events that stood out was the science during the world war two and the cold war and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) during the New deal.
Before World War II, American scientist had already begun to form alliances with private sectors and the federal government (both civilians and military). But, World War II saw an increase interest in science and engineering research which contributed to the successful campaign of the nation's war efforts. The most important discovery of this campaign was the creation of the atomic bomb (The Manhattan project) which was used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end war between japan and the United States. The Manhattan Project was a codename for the US government secret project that was established prior to the beginning of World War II. Franklin Roosevelt the president of America at that time was sent a letter from Albert Einstein warning about a threat of a very dangerous weapon and the request that the United States start looking at possibility of getting this weapons before the German who are already working on their own version. In 1942 Enrico Fermi, a physicist, successfully controlled a nuclear reaction in his reactor called Chicago pile one which was located at the university of Chicago. The first Atomic bomb was successfully tested in Los Alamos in July 6, 1945. A month after this, the military dropped two nuclear weapons over japan killing an estimated 100,000 people. This is an example of how the government worked with scientist to discover the most powerful force that mankind as ever made.
The cold war was a very tense period between the US government and the Soviet Union. The Russians had already discovered the secret of the atomic bomb and had taken liberties to develop their own nuclear weapons while they were at political conflicts with the United States and its allies. Although the chief military forces never engaged in major battle with each other, they expressed the conflict through military coalitions, strategic convention force deployments, extensive aid to states deemed vulnerable, proxy wars, espionage, propaganda, conventional and nuclear arms races, appeals to neutral nations, rivalry at sports events and technological competitions such as the space race.
As the cold war continued for nearly half a century, the federal government increased funding in research as they discovered that the Russians have launched sputnik 1 in 1957. The United States decided to compete with the Russians to win the space race. The US government passed the 1958 National Defense and Education Act (NDEA), which provided fellowships and low-interest loans to college and university students. The relationship between the US government and science and technology increase as they government got involved with research universities like Columbia University, Princeton University, University of Chicago et al. In 1962 president Kennedy gave his famous "Americans go to the moon" speech at rice university football stadium where he talked about the need to leap frog Russia by get men to the moon and back within a decade. The brought about the beginning of NASA and the US Apollo Program, through the successful project of this program the United States was able to launch into space, the moon, Human space flight initiative, robotic missions, satellites installation, rocket powered airplane et al.
Another important even during the 20th century was the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). (TVA) is a federally owned corporation in the United States created by congressional charter in May 1933 to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing, and economic development in the Tennessee Valley, a region particularly affected by the Great Depression. TWA was assigned the task of taming the floodwaters of the Tennessee River and its tributaries in such a way as to restore the social, economic, and environmental health of the region. A series of dams were to be built that would impound water at flood time, releasing it gradually to produce electrical power. At the same time, such measures as contour plowing and reforestation were to rebuild the natural environment, while electrification and model villages were to restore the health of the social body. This was part of Franklin Roosevelt New Deal Program. The TVA developed fertilizers and taught farmers how to improve crop yields in the already over cropped Tennessee valley, they provided electricity to this area which drew industries to the area and jobs.
In conclusion, one can safely say that the US government has been instrumental to do the development of science and technology. Science and technology was used by the military for wartime efforts and the Advancement of the country. For instance, the Creation of Nuclear weapons, the space race and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Carroll Pursell. The Machine in America: A Social History of Technology (p. 265). Kindle Edition.
Lane, Neal. "US Science and Technology: An Uncoordinated System that Seems to Work." Technology in Society 30.3-4 (2008): 248-63. Web.
Gaddis, John Lewis (1990). Russia, the Soviet Union and the United States. An Interpretative History. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0075572583.
Davis, Simon, and Joseph Smith. The A to Z of the Cold War (Scarecrow, 2005), encyclopedia focused on military aspects
Prof. Fa Ti Fan
The Image of Science and Technology in the Post-WWII Era
Science and technology has taken a different turn since the world war two era. From a time of tensions between the Soviet Union and the US. To some extent the post war syndrome was eased by organization such as the United Nations, The Welfare state and the Bretton woods System. Technologies started growing from the machine guns to cars, intelligence encryptor to internet and personal computers, poison gas to pesticides Et al.
In the path of technology, computers were built, the jeep was manufactured, commercial television was created, the microwave oven was commercially produced, and Velcro, Tupperware, and Frisbee were created. In the science front, Quantum physics and Nuclear physics was developed, game theories and cryptography were developed, radiocarbon dating was developed and archaeology Et al.
Also there were also fears about the newly developed gifts of man. After the end of WWII, people started to criticize the advent of science and technology in world. The effect of the atomic on japan was very terrifying on people who began to wonder if attacking japan like that was great idea. Movie makers started making movies about the prospects of science and technology in the future. Movies like Godzilla, ghost in the shell, Star trek, Space odyssey etc. Gave fictionally images of the future and how Humans would lose control of technology and become rule by robots or mutations of their own creation.
The opening line of Star Trek, "to boldly go where no man has gone before," was taken almost verbatim from a US White House booklet on space produced after the Sputnik flight in 1957. It depicts the adventures of humans and aliens who serve in Starfleet, the space bound humanitarian and peacekeeping armada of the United Federation of Planets. The conflicts and political dimensions of Star Trek sometimes represent allegories for contemporary cultural realities: Star Trek: The Original Series addressed issues of the 1960s, just as later spin-offs have reflected issues of their respective decades. Issues depicted in the various series include war and peace, the value of personal loyalty, authoritarianism, imperialism, class warfare, economics, racism, religion, human rights, sexism and feminism, and the role of technology. Roddenberry the creator of star trek stated that : "By creating a new world with new rules, I could make statements about sex, religion, Vietnam, politics, and intercontinental missiles. Indeed, we did make them on Star Trek: we were sending messages and fortunately they all got by the network."
Roddenberry intended the show to have a highly progressive political agenda reflective of the emerging counter-culture of the youth movement, though he was not fully forthcoming to the networks about this. He wanted Star Trek to show mankind what it might develop into, if only it would learn from the lessons of the past, most specifically by ending violence. An example is the Vulcans, who had a very violent past but learned to control their emotions. Roddenberry also wanted to imply an anti-war message, as well as depicting the United Federation of Planets as if it was like an ideal, optimistic version of the United Nations. His efforts were somewhat thwarted by the network's concerns over marketability, e.g., they were opposed to Roddenberry's insistence on a racially diverse crew of the Enterprise
Godzilla is a daikaijÅ«, a Japanese movie monster, first appearing in IshirÅ Honda's 1954 film Godzilla. Since then, Godzilla has gone on to become a worldwide pop culture icon starring in 28 films produced by Toho Co., Ltd. The monster has appeared in numerous other media incarnations including video games, novels, comic books, television series, and an American remake. An American reboot is currently in development by Legendary Pictures.
With the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Daigo FukuryÅ« Maru incident still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a monster created by nuclear detonations and a metaphor for nuclear weapons in general. As the film series expanded, the stories took on less serious undertones portraying Godzilla in the role of a hero, while later movies returned to depicting the character as a destructive monster. Godzilla represented the fears that many Japanese held about the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the possibility of recurrence.
These movies informed viewers the possible things that can happen in the near future as a result of science and technology and in turn made viewers question the authorities to reduce their involvement in science and technology. These made the 20th century very heated in midst of cold war and propagandas.