Topics in the News
Culture and Personality.
During the 1940s anthropologists, who study human beings in relation to their physical and social environments, focused on the ways in which culture influences personality. In her Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), a classic example of a culture and personality study, anthropologist Margaret Mead found none of the internal psychological conflict and rebellion characteristic of adolescents in the West among Samoan girls, demonstrating the relativity of Western concepts of psychological development and arguing that psychology cannot be understood without taking culture into account. Mead had become well known by the 1940s, and this influential study was republished for the armed forces in 1945. During World War II Mead engaged in war work for the National Research Council and the Office of War Information (OWI) and wrote And Keep Your Powder Dry (1942), in which she explored the large, complex culture of the United States, employing research methods developed to examine small, premodern societies. Faced with the rise of fascism abroad, she told her readers, "Every social institution which teaches human beings to cringe to those above and step on those below must be replaced by institutions which teach people to look each other in the eye."
Sponsored by the OWI, Mead's friend and...
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The Function of Artifacts.
During the 1940s American archaeology moved from a concern with chronological ordering of artifacts to an interest in the function of an object and the context in which it was used. Archaeologists began to look at artifacts as the material relics of social and cultural behavior. The function of a specific object was determined by paying careful attention to where it was found. For example, in a 1943 study of copper and shell artifacts uncovered in the southeastern United States, archaeologist John W. Bennett concluded on the basis of their appearence and context that they were ritual paraphernalia. After almost identical pieces were found in distant sites such as Georgia and Oklahoma, Bennett concluded that he was dealing with the material remains of a widespread religious cult. Bennett's interpretation was a major step in archaeological methodology because it employed both the immediate "micro-context" in which the artifacts were found and the "macrocontext," comparing his findings to those at geographically distant sites.
Examinations of settlement patterns were often the focus of contextual-functional archaeological studies in the 1940s. It was believed that the way people arranged themselves in the landscape, where they settled in relation to natural features and to other people, held...
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The Big Bang Theory. During the first decades of the twentieth century cosmologists, physicists, and astronomers proposed various theories about the formation of the universe, debating whether the universe was static or dynamic and expanding. In the 1940s astronomer George Gamow and his colleagues at George Washington University proposed a model of the universe developed from Albert Einstein's 1916 theory of relativity and Edwin Hubble's first measurements of distances in galaxies in 1929. Gamow's Big Bang theory hypothesizes that the universe began with the explosion of primeval matter in a state of extreme heat and high density, beginning the ongoing dynamic expansion of the universe. Gamow theorized that primordial matter consisted of neutrons and their decay products—protons and electrons mixed together—in a sea of high-energy radiation. This matter provided the basic ingredients for the formation of heavier and heavier elements as the universe continued to expand. Gamow had formulated these ideas by 1940 and spent most of the 1940s working with physicists Ralph Asher Alpher and Robert Herman on mathematical calculations of heavy-element formation. Gamow presented the Big Bang theory publicly in 1948, and it was accepted by many astronomers as a valid interpretation of the astronomical evidence. In the decades since 1948, evidence to support parts of the theory has emerged, and it has for the most part been...
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Aircraft played an important role in World War II, with the military using them for purposes such as long-range bombing missions, protection of land and sea convoys, diversion of enemy fire, provision of cover for ground and naval assaults, and transportation of troops, munitions, and supplies. The wartime needs of the military spurred advancements in aviation. By the late 1930s improvements had taken propeller aircraft with piston engines to their farthest limits of speed and power, and wartime aeronautic research was directed toward solving the aerodynamic problems of developing jet air-craft. Innovations in aviation during the war included not only jet-propelled aircraft but also the helicopter, the winged pilotless missile, and the long-range rocket.
Image Pop-UpWartime aircraft plant.
Responsibility for the development of military aviation rested with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which served both the army and the navy. The committee, led by physicist Joseph S. Ames of Johns Hopkins University, sponsored studies of the fundamental principles of flight. The results of such research included the...
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How Traits Are Inherited.
In the early 1940s researchers made a major breakthrough in genetics, the branch of biology that deals with inherited characteristics in all forms of life. They established how hereditary information is carried by chromosomes, threadlike structures composed of nucleic acids and proteins that exist within the nucleus of the cell. Each chromosome is made up of individual genes that determine specific hereditary factors (color of hair and eyes, for example). The major question for geneticists in the 1940s was what gives these strands of proteins and nucleic acids the special ability to transmit information about an organism's traits. This question would not be answered entirely until the early 1950s, but important strides were made in the 1940s, as geneticists made discoveries that lay behind James Watson and Francis Crick's groundbreaking discovery in 1952 of the double-helix structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).
The first step toward this discovery came in 1944, when Colin MacCleod, Oswald Avery, and Maclyn McCarty at the Rockefeller Institute showed that nucleic acids, not the proteins that surround them in chromosomes, determine genetic traits in pneumococcal bacteria. The next research task was determining how nucleic acids work. Geneticist Barbara McClintock, who received the Nobel Prize...
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Biology: The Evolutionary Synthesis
A Single Theory of Evolution.
A major breakthrough for biological science came in 1947, when—after two decades of noncommunication—two branches of evolutionary biology, experimental geneticists and population biologists, fused their opposing theories of evolution into a single model known as the evolutionary synthesis. This synthesis involved reconciling Charles Darwin's mid-nineteenth century idea of natural selection with the early-twentieth century genetic understanding of the transmission of inherited characteristics. This agreement was reached because new scientific discoveries had broken down the barriers that had seemed to separate the two theories.
The Princeton Conference.
The extraordinary degree of consensus reached among evolutionists was confirmed at a conference organized by the National Research Council and held in Princeton, New Jersey, on 2-4 January 1947. Conference organizers brought together representatives of the most divergent fields, including paleontologists, morphologists, ecologists, ethologists, systematists, and geneticists. Fifteen years earlier such a gathering would have been the scene of bitter, irreconcilable arguments. No such thing happened at Princeton; indeed, it was difficult to spark any controversy at all.
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Computer Science and Information Technology
Early computers are examples of the scientific innovations that resulted from the collaboration of the military, academia, and private industry. Unlike future generations of digital computers, early computers were bulky systems that slowly and clumsily combined various tasks—including gathering, storing, and processing data.
The Mark I.
As early as 1937 IBM and Harvard University agreed to cooperate on producing "an automatically operated assembly of calculating machines/' primarily for the "use of scientists." IBM envisioned the project as a contribution to science, not as a commercial venture, and expected favorable publicity in the scientific community as its reward for its expenditure of money, time, and parts. In 1943 Howard Aiken at Harvard invented the IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC), soon known as Harvard Mark I. The new computer was first demonstrated to the Harvard faculty in December 1943. The Mark I showed that a complex calculating machine could work automatically, performing operations in sequence, and it could follow a preset program from the entry of the data to the production of the final results. In 1944 the Mark I was turned over to the navy for wartime use. After the war Aiken established the nation's first master's and doctoral degree programs in computer science at...
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Computers and the Human Mind.
By 1948, with computation science freed from wartime demands, a new
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Earth Science: Rainmakers
Changing the Weather.
In 1943 earth scientists began to investigate the possibility of weather modification. Working at the General Electric Research Laboratory, Irving Langmuir and Vincent Joseph Schaefer began collaborating in a study of how cold temperature and humidity combine to form rime, a thin coating of ice, on all objects exposed to the weather. After observing the way ice forms on airplanes as they pass through cold clouds, Langmuir and Schaefer moved to broader research on clouds and the causes of precipitation.
After months of experimentation, Schaefer determined that precipitation is caused in supercooled clouds—clouds at or below freezing in which ice crystals and water drops both exist; the ice crystals grow bigger as the water droplets become smaller, until all the moisture is gone or the ice crystals are heavy enough to fall from the cloud. If the temperature at some point above the ground is above freezing, it rains; if not, it snows. After several unsuccessful attempts to create precipitation on a deep-freeze unit in his laboratory, Schaefer one day tossed in a handful of dry ice and was rewarded with a miniature snowfall. He and Langmuir then reproduced the experiment in nature. On 13 November 1946 Schaefer flew over Mount Greylock in Massachusetts and sprinkled several pounds of dry ice into a...
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Mathematics: Game Theory
The Minimax Theorem.
A major innovation in applied mathematics during the 1940s was the use of game theory to create models of economic and social behavior. Game theory analyzes conflicts by creating mathematical models of them. Mathematician John Von Neumann presented the minimax theorem, an initial contribution to the theory, in 1929. The minimax theorem applies to "zero-sum," or no-win games, pure rivalries in which one side's gain is the other's loss. Von Neumann and economist Oskar Morgenstern, both of Princeton University, explained their methods of creating mathematical models of conflicts in their 1944 book, Theory of Games and Economic Behavior.
Another game theorist at Princeton in the late 1940s was John Nash, whose dissertation (1950) elaborated on Von Neumann's theory. Focusing on "non-zero-sum" games, Nash described "win-win" rivalries, in which mutual gain is possible, "lose lose" contests, in which both sides could lose, and games in which win-lose, win-win, and lose-lose situations all exist together. Nash turned game theory into a powerful tool for analyzing economic situations such as trade negotiations and business competition as well as political situations related to the Cold War and nuclear arms negotiations.
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Fermi Achieves the First Chain Reaction.
In late 1942—in a squash court under the stands of Stagg Field, the unused University of Chicago football stadium—a group of physicists led by Enrico Fermi, who had received the 1938 Nobel Prize in physics for his work with radioactivity, constructed a chain-reacting nuclear pile with six tons of uranium metal and fifty tons of uranium oxide encased in four hundred tons of graphite. On 2 December Fermi slowly withdrew the reaction-control rods. As the clicks of neutron counters increased steadily, reminding those present of "a mounting frenzy of crickets," Fermi announced that the pile had reached critical mass, that is, enough material in the pile had become radioactive to create a chain reaction by means of nuclear fission (the splitting of the atomic nucleus). Thus, he achieved the first controlled release of nuclear energy.
Nuclear Physics and the War Effort.
The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 and the subsequent entrance of the...
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"Your Servant the Molecule"
(Monsanto slogan, 1944). During the 1940s advances in organic chemistry, the study of carbon compounds, led to the development of synthetic chemicals and a tremendous growth in the American chemical industry. Advances in the understanding of the arrangement of atoms in molecules and the nature of chemical reactions paved the way for the development of synthetics, such as saccharin and plastic, that had a wide-ranging effect on consumer products, transforming everything from fabrics to food production to home appliances. Ten chemical corporations built on the new synthetic chemistry—including Celanese and Monsanto, as well as old-line, giant chemical companies such as DuPont, Allied Chemical, and Union Carbide—accounted for nearly 9 percent of the total assets of the top one hundred industrials in 1948, signifying the "chemicalization" of American industry.
While chemistry remained a mystery to most Americans, its applications changed their lives. The new plastic polyethylene, introduced in 1944 by Du Pont, is a tough thermoplastic able to withstand a wide temperature range. Its diverse uses include collapsible tubes for food and cosmetics, as well as medical equipment, lighting fixtures, and furniture. Also introduced in 1944, polysiloxane polymer (silicone) was produced by the Corning...
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Discovery of Radar.
Though the principles of radar—an acronym for radio detection and ranging—were understood in the early 1930s, its application in the United States was slow to develop. In 1930 Lawrence Hyland of the Naval Research Laboratory observed that radio signals transmitted from the ground were reflected back by passing airplanes and showed up on a radio-wave detection screen. This discovery opened up the possibility of developing a system to detect and locate aircraft. The U.S. Army did not recognize the importance of radar until 1936, when it established a radar research unit at the U.S. Army Signal Corps laboratory in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Research moved slowly because the navy classified pulse-radar research as secret, preventing the navy and army from exchanging information.
The Tizard Mission.
After the outbreak of World War II Great Britain helped to strengthen U.S. radar operations. In summer 1940 Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent a technical mission to the United States. Its director, Sir Henry Tizard, a defense scientist who believed in the full exchange of technical information, brought Britain's most vital secrets of military technology. Led by Alfred Loomis, head of the radar section of the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC), American scientists were in the throes of developing microwave...
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The German V-2.
Rocket technology was first developed by the Germans in 1929 as a way to enhance its artillery power. The first V-2 rocket, developed by Wernher von Braun, was successfully tested on 3 October 1942. The V-2 was a huge, fast missile. When it reached a speed of 5,577 feet per second, the engine shut off and the missile continued to climb on a ballistic trajectory that had a maximum altitude of fifty miles, almost entirely above the atmosphere. More than three thousand German V-2s caused enormous devastation in England and Europe in 1944 and 1945. At the end of World War II American military scientists aggressively seized the technology behind the V-2 and brought German rocket scientists, including von Braun, to the United States. The V-2, considered a masterpiece of technology, differed little from the rockets later designed for the American space program, for which von Braun laid the foundations.
The first phase of the U.S. rocketry program was Project Hermes, the "Ordnance Guided Missile and Rocket Programs," initiated by the U.S. government in November 1944. Charged with the development of long-range guided missiles for use against ground targets and high-altitude aircraft, project engineers investigated all aspects of rocketry, including missile structures, transonic and supersonic aerodynamics and...
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Television was introduced to Americans at the 1939 New York World's Fair, but World War II interrupted its commercial development. The first color television broadcast was a private demonstration by RCA at its New Jersey Laboratories on 12 February 1940. On 1 September 1940 CBS entered the competition by demonstrating to the public a superior sequential color system based on the research of engineer Peter Carl Goldmark, who was inspired to develop a color-television system when he saw the spectacular Technicolor movie Gone With the Wind, released in 1939.
The Television Boom.
After the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted standards for black and white television in 1941, RCA gave NBC leadership in the development of black-and-white technology. Because of the war, television was still a novelty, confined to a few thousand urban homes, as late as 1946. The television boom did not begin until 1949. CBS and NBC competed fiercely to create a workable color system. CBS and RCA began manufacturing color television sets in the early 1950s, but networks did not begin televising all prime-time shows in color until the mid 1960s.
Erik Barnouw, A History of Broadcasting in the United States, 3 volumes (New York: Oxford...
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Limitations of Vacuum Tubes.
Before 1948 electrical engineers used vacuum tubes in radios, televisions, computers, and other electrical devices. These bulky tubes, usually encased in glass, typically performed one function each, such as amplifying electronic signals. A complex electrical circuit required several tubes, a lot of space, and good ventilation, since the tubes emitted heat and failed when they got too hot. Moreover, vacuum tubes were inefficient; large amounts of electricity had to be input into the electrical circuit to make a set of tubes work.
At the end of 1947 William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter H. Brattain, working at the Bell Telephone Laboratories, developed the transistor as an efficient alternative to vacuum tubes. The Bell physicists found that by introducing impurities into semiconductors, normally either silicon or germanium, and attaching the semiconductors to a metallic base, they could amplify electronic signals. The transistor could be composed of microscopic parts, and it operated at much cooler temperatures than vacuum tubes. Transistors were also sturdy, lending themselves well to use in portable appliances. Most significant, though, transistors could operate an electrical circuit with as little as one-twentieth of the initial power required by vacuum tubes.
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Atanasoff, John Vincent 1904-1982
ELECTRICAL ENGINEER, MATHEMATICIAN,
John Vincent Atanasoff invented the first automatic digital computer, but before he perfected his design, others had developed computers that were more sophisticated than his, and his contribution to computer technology was nearly forgotten.
Atanasoff became interested in calculating at the age of nine, when his father, an electrical engineer, gave him a slide rule. After receiving a B.S. in electrical engineering at the University of Florida in 1925, Atanasoff earned an M.A. in mathematics at Iowa State University (1926) and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin (1930).
Inventing a Computer.
Atanasoff encountered the limits of existing calculating instruments as he worked on the extensive calculations for his doctoral dissertation on the electrical properties of helium. As a professor of mathematics and physics at Iowa State, he began to work on an improved calculating machine during the 1930s. In 1937 he developed the idea for an electronic digital machine that would use binary numbers (base two) instead of the traditional decimal (base ten) of existing calculating machines; it would have memory, and unlike existing analog calculators it would operate by...
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Bush, Vannevar 1890-1974
ELECTRICAL ENGINEER, ADMINISTRATOR
Directing Wartime Research.
"I'm no scientist, I'm an engineer," Vannevar Bush claimed late in his life. Yet as head of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) during World War II, he presided over the development of the atomic bomb and made a major impact on the course of scientific research in the United States both during and after the war.
Born in Boston to a Universalist minister and his wife, Bush put himself through Tufts University by tutoring football stars in mathematics. Bush earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in engineering from Tufts in 1913, and in 1916 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University jointly awarded him a doctorate in electrical engineering.
Bush returned to the faculty at Tufts, where he had taught before pursuing his doctorate. In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, Bush was selected to work at the U.S. Navy antisubmarine laboratory in New London, Connecticut. He developed a submarine detector that was never used and drew the conclusion that lack of communication between scientists and government leaders and lack of coordination of scientists' efforts had led to the underuse of scientists' talents in the war effort....
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Cori, Gerty Theresa 1896-1957
Nobel Prize Winner.
Gerty Theresa Cori was the first American to receive the Nobel Prize for medicine or physiology. She shared the 1947 prize with her husband, Carl Cori, and with Argentinian Bernardo Houssay.
Born Gerty Theresa Radnitz in Prague, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Cori entered the medical school of the German University of Prague in 1914 and graduated in 1920, the same year she married Carl Cori, a fellow student with whom she shared an interest in laboratory research. They collaborated on their first project, a study of the immune bodies in blood, in the first year they were married.
Research in the United States.
The Coris immigrated to the United States in 1922 and worked at the New York Institute for the Study of Malignant Diseases (later Roswell Park Memorial Institute) in Buffalo. They continued to work together on research projects even after Carl Cori was advised by colleagues and employers that such collaboration would be detrimental to his career. In 1931 they moved to the medical school at Washington University in Saint Louis, where Car Cori became chair of the department of pharmacology. Because university nepotism rules forbade the appointment to the faculty of two members of the same...
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Fermi, Enrico 1901-1954
Nobel Prize Winner.
The winner of the Nobel Prize for physics in 1938, Enrico Fermi played a prominent role in the harnessing of nuclear energy and the development of the atomic bomb.
Born in Rome, Italy, Fermi earned a doctorate at the University of Pisa in 1922 and spent the next two years abroad on a fellowship that allowed him to study with physicists Max Born in Göttingen and Paul Ehrenfest in Leiden. Returning to Italy in 1924, he became a lecturer in Florence, and by 1927 he had earned a reputation as a leader in the international community of theoretical physics. In that year he was appointed to the first Italian chair of theoretical physics, established at the University of Rome. During the 1930s he experimented with initiating nuclear reactions by bombarding atomic nuclei with neutrons, the work for which he won a Nobel Prize in 1938. Earlier that year the passage of Fascist anti-Jewish laws in Italy deeply troubled Fermi and his wife, who was Jewish. Fermi and his family went to Stockholm for the Nobel Prize ceremony and sailed from there directly to the United States, where he had already accepted a job at Columbia University.
Building the Bomb.
Fermi continued his research at Columbia University until 1942, when he joined...
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Oppenheimer, J. Robert 1904-1967
Born in New York City, J. Robert Oppenheimer completed the four-year undergraduate program at Harvard University in three years, studying classical languages as well as chemistry and physics and graduating summa cum laude in 1925. He spent the next four years traveling in Europe and studying at Cambridge University and then at the University of Göttingen, where he worked with physicist Max Born and earned a Ph.D. in 1927. Oppenheimer also spent time with physicists Paul Ehrenfest in Leiden and Wolfgang Pauli in Zurich.
When Oppenheimer returned to the United States in 1929, he was twenty-five and had already published sixteen papers on various aspects of theoretical physics. He received a joint appointment at the University of California, Berkeley, and California Institute of Technology, leading centers of physics research in the country. Within just a few years Oppenheim er earned a reputation as a dynamic and revered teacher of theoretical physics while devoting his research work to some of the most important questions in physics of the times. In...
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Teller, Edward 1908-
Father of the Hydrogen Bomb.
Edward Teller played an important role in the Manhattan Project, which developed the first atomic bomb during World War II. After the war, when many other scientists were calling for caution in research on further nuclear weapons, Teller was an outspoken advocate for building the powerful hydrogen bomb and other thermonuclear weapons.
Born in Budapest, Hungary, then part of the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire, Teller was born into a middle-class Jewish family. He studied briefly at the University of Budapest (1925) before entering the Institute of Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany, in January 1926 to study chemical engineering. In 1928 he went on to the University of Munich to study physics. That summer his right foot was severed in a streetcar accident, and after several months of convalescence at home in Budapest, he enrolled at the University of Leipzig later that year. There Teller studied with physicist Werner Heisenberg and became increasingly aware of the growing threat of...
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People in the News
In 1940 physical chemist Philip Abelson and physicist Edwin McMillan discovered neptunium, the first transuranic (heavier than uranium) element.
During the 1940s physicist Arthur Compton, winner of the 1927 Nobel Prize for physics for his discovery of the dual nature of electromagnetic radiation, directed research for the Manhattan Project, setting up the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago in 1942.
Molecular biologists Max Delbruck and Salvador Luria collaborated in 1940 to show the dynamics of bacterial mutations. In 1945 Delbruck demonstrated that the bacteriophage (a virus that infects and sometimes destroys bacteria) can reproduce sexually.
In 1949 biologists John Enders, Thomas Weiler, and Frederick Robbins cultivated poliovirus in vitro (that is, outside the human body) on human embryonic tissue.
In 1940 physicists Richard Feyman, Julian Schwinger, and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga began development of the modern theory of quantum electrodynamics; their work continued until 1950.
In 1947 physiologists Ralph Gerard, Judith Graham, and Gilbert Ling produced a microelectrode that permitted precise study of the chemical and physical properties of muscle and nerve cells.
In June 1942 Gen....
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German American chemist Otto Stern wins the Nobel Prize for physics for outstanding achievements including development of the molecular-beam method, co-discovery of the quantization of space, measurement of atomic magnetic moments, demonstration of the wave nature of atoms and molecules, and discovery of the magnetic moment of the proton.
Isidor Isaac Rabi of the United States wins the Nobel Prize for physics for his discovery and measurement of the radio-frequency spectra of atomic nuclei by using the resonance method.
Austrian American physicist Wolfgang Pauli wins the Nobel Prize for physics for his 1925 discovery of the Pauli Exclusion Principle in quantum mechanics, in which no two electrons in an atom may be in the same quantum state.
James B. Sumner, John H. Northrop, and Wendell M. Stanley, all of the United States, share the Nobel Prize for chemistry—Sumner for his research in the crystallization of enzymes,...
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Florence Bascom, 83, geologist who built the geology department at Bryn Mawr College to prominence, 18 June 1945.
Franz Boaz, 87, anthropologist who established the discipline of anthropology in the United States and built Columbia University into a center for anthropological research and training, 22 December 1942.
Annie Jump Cannon, 78, astronomer who worked on the classification of bright southern stars, 13 April 1941.
George Washington Carver, 79, agricultural chemist who introduced the lucrative peanut crop to the South and developed many by-products, such as peanut oil, and who received the Roosevelt Medal in 1939, 5 January 1943.
Charles B. Davenport, 78, geneticist who emphasized hereditarian explanation and eugenics in the early decades of the twentieth century, 18 February 1944.
Robert Hutchings Goddard, 63, physicist who designed the first successful liquid-fuel rockets (1926), which by 1935 reached supersonic speeds, 10 August 1945.
Ida Hyde, 91, neurobiologist, first woman to do research at Harvard Medical School, and inventor of the first microelectrode for use in intracellular work, 22 August 1945.
Thomas Midgley, Jr., 55, chemist who introduced the antiknock lead additive (1921) to...
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Ruth Benedict, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1946);
Benedict, Race, Science and Politics (New York: Modern Age Books, 1940);
Joseph C. Boyce, ed., New Weapons for Air Warfare (Boston: Little, Brown, 1947);
Lyman Bryson and Louis Finkelstein, eds., Science, Philosophy and Religion, Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life (New York: Columbia University, 1942);
John E. Burchard, ed., Rockets, Guns and Targets (Boston: Little, Brown, 1948);
James B. Conant, On Understanding Science (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1947);
Ladislas Farago and Gordon Allport, German Psychological Warfare (New York: Putnam, 1942);
R. Goldschmidt, The Material Basis of Evolution (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1940);
Julian Huxley, Evolution: The Modern Synthesis (London: Allen &Unwin, 1942);
Huxley, ed., The New Systematics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940);
William L. Laurence, Dawn over Zero: The Story of the Atomic Bomb (New York: Knopf, 1946; enlarged, 1947);
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Important Events in Science and Technology, 1940–1949
- On May 15, the Vought-Sikorsky corporation conducts the first completely successful helicopter flight.
- On June 15, President Franklin D. Roosevelt establishes the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC), a new federal agency headed by Vannevar Bush to mobilize science for military purposes.
- In July, Physicist James Hillier of RCA completes construction of the first high-resolution electron microscope.
- In October, the Radiation Laboratory, a microwave-radiation lab nicknamed "Rad Lab," is established at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop an airborne radar-intercept system.
- John Vincent Atanasoff and Clifford Berry complete the Atanasoff Berry Computer (ABC), an unworkable prototype of the programmable digital computer.
- The Grand Coulee Dam begins operations in Washington state.
- Plutonium is isolated by Edwin M. McMillan and Glenn Theodore Seaborg.
- On June 28, an executive order by President Roosevelt establishes the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) to oversee and coordinate all wartime research and development. The OSRD will coordinate the development of radar, sonar, and the first stages of the atomic bomb.
- In August, the...
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