War Research

Some of the greatest breakthroughs were made possible by war. As devastating as it is, I can’t help but think that it’s easily possible for war to be a good thing. Without it, people are lazy. And with it, research projects get funding.

Only four years after World War II had ended in Europe, a shining technological phoenix had miraculously risen from the still-smoldering ashes of the devastation. …what might well be the invention of the century–a semiconducting device that would spawn a massive new global industry of incalculable value. …
As was true for the Bell Labs transistor, invented by John Bardeen and Walter D. Brattain in December 1947, the technology that led to the transistron emerged from wartime research on semiconductor materials, which were sorely needed in radar receivers. …

IEEE Spectrum, November 2005, p54 (emphasis mine)

The article goes on to explain that the discovery arose from the German radar program’s crash R&D program. Thus, I can’t help but think: if WWII hadn’t occurred, would we have computers today? Electronics? Robotics? For all the bad, wars also seem to contribute to scientific research. And the results are astounding.

2 Responses to “War Research”

  1. Katy says:

    I wouldn’t say war is a good thing, but good things could come out of a bad situation.
    I am sure some other occasion would’ve spurred the development of computers. Probably someone like you would’ve done it!

  2. Michael says:

    “Necessity is the mother of all invention!”

    At the bottom of the ladder, you’re starving and you better find a way to eat.

    As you struggle up the ladder, you compete for resources and you better be inventive to survive or you get killed by the competition (extreme case of last resorts being war).

    After you get past the survival-agression stage, you dream loftier goals-ambitions (Pres. Kennedy – put a man on the moon) which spurs countless technological advances which have permeated into consumer products benefiting the common man.

    Do you need a war for tech advances? No, rather than being driven by the need for survival, I would prefer being driven by the goals of ambitious dreamers prepared to acheive the impossible. (The “impossible” of yesterday is the “common place” of today).

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