By: Linus Pauling
Source: Pauling, Linus. Research Notebook 14, 1940–1949. Linus Pauling Archives. Available at Oregon State University online at http://osulibrary.orst.edu/specialcollections/rnb/14/14-056... ; website home page http://osulibrary.orst.edu (accessed March 21, 2003).
About the Author: Linus Pauling (1901–1994) was born in Portland, Oregon. He graduated from Oregon State Agricultural College in 1922 and earned his Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology in 1925. For two years thereafter he worked in Europe with first-rate scientists. In 1927 he joined the faculty at Cal Tech, where he became a professor in 1931. His publications from 1935 to 1947 laid down the foundations for modern chemistry. He won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1954 for his work on quantam mechanics' application to chemistry. Pauling was not only a very prolific scientist, but also an activist. He was one of the first scientists to speak out against nuclear weapons and war. For his political efforts, in 1962, he was awarded a second Nobel Prize, this time for peace. Pauling's long and very productive life spanned almost the entire 20th century....
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Atanasoff/Mauchly Correspondence, 1941
By: John V. Atanasoff and John W. Mauchly
Date: March–September 1941
Source: Atansoff, John V., and John W. Mauchly. Letters. March–September 1941. Reprinted in Mollenhoff, Clark R. Atanasoff: Forgotten Father of the Computer. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1988, 249–255.
About the Authors: John Vincent Atanasoff (1903–1995) was born near West Hamilton, New York. Mastering college algebra by the age of nine, Atanasoff eventually earned his Ph.D. in physics from Iowa State College (now University). In 1930, he joined the faculty staff at his alma mater, a position he held until 1952. He then established the Ordnance Engineering Corporation in Maryland, where he worked until his retirement in 1961.
John William Mauchly (1907–1980) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and received a Ph.D. in physics from Johns Hopkins University in 1932. In 1945, while a professor of physics at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, Mauchly built the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC).
While a graduate student during the 1920s, John Atanasoff studied helium's electronic structure, work that required weeks of laborious calculations. This drudgery left him longing for a...
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Heredity and Environment
By: Robert S. Woodworth
Source: Woodworth, Robert S. Heredity and Environment: A Critical Survey of Recently Published Materials on Twins and Foster Children. New York: Social Science Research Council, 1941, 1–3.
About the Author: Robert S. Woodworth (1869–1962) became interested in psychology while taking philosophy courses at Amherst College in Massachusetts. As a graduate student at Harvard, he encountered William James's Principles of Psychology, which inspired him to study psychology in earnest, though he retained his interest in philosophy. Finally settling on psychology in 1903 (twelve years after graduation), Woodworth joined the faculty of Columbia University. His 1938 book, Experimental Psychology, was considered the "bible" in its field for many years.
In 1941, Woodworth was asked by the Committee on Social Adjustment of the Social Science Research Council to weigh in on the "nature versus nurture" debate. Woodworth was an expert at asking the right question, and sifting through a large amount of information to find the answer. In Heredity and Environment, Woodworth reviewed a number of published reports on child development. His focus was to determine whether...
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"Feasibility of a Chain Reaction"
By: Enrico Fermi
Date: November 26, 1942
Source: Fermi, Enrico. "Feasibility of a Chain Reaction." Report CP-383, November 26, 1942. In Collected Papers, Volume II: United States 1939–1954. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965.
About the Author: Enrico Fermi (1901–1954) was born in Rome, Italy. As a student, he excelled in mathematics and physics. His academic achievements won him a scholarship at the University of Pisa, where he received his Ph.D. in physics in 1922. In 1927, he became professor of theoretical physics at the University of Rome. In 1938, Fermi won the Nobel Prize for his contributions to the knowledge of nuclear energy. That same year, he came to the United States and participated in the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb. He was professor of physics at Columbia University from 1939 to 1942. By the time of his death, Fermi held more than fifteen patents, including that of the first nuclear reactor.
A plaque at the University of Chicago reads: "On December 2, 1942, man achieved here the first self-sustaining chain reaction and thereby initiated the controlled release of nuclear energy." This achievement was accomplished by the group of scientists and engineers involved in the...
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ENIAC Progress Report
By: Mauchly, John W., and J. Presper Eckert, Jr.
Source: ENIAC Progress Report. Document sent to Ballistic Research Lab, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, 1944.
About the Authors: John W. Mauchly (1907–1980) attended John Hopkins University on scholarships due to his outstanding academic achievements. Though initially interested in engineering, he received a doctorate degree in Physics, and obtained a professorship at Ursinus College, near Philadelphia. In 1941, he became affiliated at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering of the University of Pennsylvania. Here Mauchly was able to combine his interests in engineering and physics by working on the pioneering ENIAC (Electronic Ingrator and Computer) project, together with J. Presper Eckert Jr., with whom he would be associated for the rest of his life. J. Presper Eckert Jr. (1919–1995) received a Master's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1941. He was Chief Engineer at that university's Moore School of Electrical Engineering when John Mauchly wrote a preliminary report on the possible construction of a computer, which resulted in the ENIAC project. A founder of the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation in 1946, Eckert became vice president of the Remington Rand...
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Radar Electronic Fundamentals
By: Bureau of Ships, U.S. Navy
Date: June 1944
Source: Bureau of Ships, U.S. Navy. Radar Electronic Fundamentals. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1944, 1–4.
The use of the airplane during World War I (1914–1918) led military planners to seek a way of detecting planes before they could attack troops and materiel. In 1930 Lawrence Hyland, a staff officer at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, discovered that radio signals transmitted from the ground reflected back from airplanes to the ground, allowing troops to detect them while they were still miles away.
Another officer at the National Research Laboratory, Leo Young, modified Hyland's discovery by producing short bursts of radio waves at fixed intervals. Young conceived of high frequency radio waves clustered in short bursts and sweeping the sky in all directions. The reflection of waves from aircraft fixed their location, and the time required for the waves to return to the sender revealed the distance of aircraft from the sender. In the work of Hyland and Young lay the origin of what the U.S. Navy would call radio direction and ranging, or radar.
By the end of 1942...
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"World's Greatest Mathematical Calculator"
By: Harvard University
Date: August 7, 1944
Source: News Office, Harvard University. "World's Greatest Mathematical Calculator." August 7, 1944. Reprinted in Cohen, Bernard et al., Makin' Numbers: Howard Aiken and the Computer. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999. Appendix A, 249–252.
About the Author: Howard Aiken (1900–1973), born in Hoboken, New Jersey, received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1923. Following ten years of work as an engineer for public utilities, he enrolled at Harvard for graduate studies, where he earned his doctorate in physics in 1939. He then began a five-year project, working with engineers at the International Business Machines laboratory, to design and build a large-scale calculator. The machine they constructed is considered to mark the beginning of the computer era. Aiken retired from Harvard in 1961 and later held a business/consulting position for several years at the University of Miami, Florida.
The ideas that were the basis for the Mark I originated in 1937 and were based on Howard Aiken's scientific needs. Aiken, a graduate student in communication engineering at Harvard, routinely encountered difficult and tedious...
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"As We May Think"
By: Vannevar Bush
Date: July 1945
Source: Bush, Vannevar. "As We May Think." Atlantic Monthly 176, no. 1, July 1945, 641–649. Available online at http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/flashbks/computer/bushf.... ; website home page: http://www.theatlantic.com (accessed March 20, 2003).
About the Author: Vannevar Bush (1890–1974) was born in Everett, Massachusetts. He received his M.S. degree from Tufts College in 1913, and earned Ph.D. degrees from both Harvard and MIT in 1916. Three years later he joined the MIT faculty and became professor of electrical engineering in 1923, vice president and dean of engineering in 1932, and president of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C. in 1939. Among Vannevar Bush's many accomplishments and contributions to U.S. science and technology policy was the formation of the research partnerships that would develop the ARPANET, from which the Internet evolved.
World War II (1939–1945) was all but over—the Germans had surrendered and the Japanese were on the brink of surrendering—when "As We May Think" was published in Atlantic...
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Race: Science and Politics
By: Ruth Benedict
Source: Benedict, Ruth. Race: Science and Politics. Rev. ed. New York: Viking Press, 1945, vii–viii, ix–xi.
About the Author: Born in New York, Ruth Fulton Benedict (1887–1948) began attending Vassar College at the age of seventeen. She graduated in 1909, and following a year of overseas travel, during which she considered various career choices, Benedict began graduate studies in the field of anthropology. Her instructors included Franz Boas and Edward Sapir, both of whom were prominent and influential anthropologists. Margaret Mead, who became a lifelong friend, was one of her students. Benedict obtained her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1922 and remained there as a teacher until her death.
During World War II (1939–1945), the public perception about race was that there were biologically different types, or races, of people in the world. Associated with this notion of "difference" was the idea of superior and inferior, good and bad. Many times, so-called scientific facts were used to uphold this difference. This phenomenon came to be called "scientific racism."
Scientific racism was a prominent force during World War II. It was used by the Nazi...
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"Three-Electrode Circuit Element Utilizing Semiconductive Materials"
Patent application, Diagram
By: John Bardeen and Walter Brattain
Source: Bardeen, John, and Walter Brattain. "Three-Electrode Circuit Element Utilizing Semiconductive Materials." U.S. patent 2,524,035, 1948. Available in a search for patent 2,524,035 online at http://www.uspto.gov/patft/index.html; website home page: http://www.uspto.gov (accessed March 20, 2003).
About the Authors: John Bardeen (1908–1987) received his Ph.D. in mathematics and physics from Princeton University in 1936. After World War II, he obtained employment at Bell
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By: Norbert Wiener
Source: Wiener, Norbert. Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. New York: Wiley and Sons, 1948, 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 11.
About the Author: Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Norbert Wiener (1894–1964) studied at the University of Cambridge, England and the University of Göttingen, Germany. He joined the staff at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1919 as an instructor in mathematics. During this time he was developing his interest in the parallels between feedback control in circuits and mental processes. This led to the creation of a new discipline which he called cybernetics, the study of control, communication, and organization. He propounded a new approach to the study of man in his technological environment, a science of man as component of an age of automation. He died in Stockholm.
Wiener's book, Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, resulted in part from Wiener's involvement in World War II (1939–1945). Wiener, like John von Neumann, John Mauchly, Presper Eckert, and Howard Aiken, was involved in the development of advanced machines for the war effort.
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"The General and Logical Theory of Automata"
By: John von Neumann
Source: Von Neumann, John. "The General and Logical Theory of Automata." Presented at the Hixon Symposium on September 20, 1948, at the California Institute of Technology. Reprinted in The World of Physics: A Small Library of the Literature of Physics from Antiquity to the Present. Jefferson Hane Weaver, ed. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987, 606–607.
About the Author: John von Neumann (1903–1957) received early instruction in his native Budapest from Michael Fekete, publishing his first paper with Fekete at the age of 18. He went on to study in Berlin and Zurich, completing his Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Budapest in 1926. One of the original six professors of mathematics at Princeton University's Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS), von Neumann played a large part in the design of the IAS computer. He also served on the Atomic Energy Commission before his premature death from cancer at the height of his career.
The latter part of the 1940s, after the end of World War II (1939–1945), was a thriving time for research into advanced computing machines. The war had provided the initial impetus for their development: the need for machines that could perform...
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Draft Letter from Niels Bohr to Werner Heisenberg, ca. 1957
By: Niels Bohr
Date: ca. 1957
Source: Bohr, Niels. Draft Letter to Werner Heisenberg, ca. 1957. Niels Bohr Archive. Reprinted in Naturens Verden 84, no. 8–9, 2002. Available online at http://www.nbi.dk/NBA/papers/docs/d01tra.htm; website home page: http://www.nbi.dk/NBA/webpage.html (accessed March 20, 2003).
About the Author: Niels Bohr (1885–1962) received his physics doctorate at Copenhagen in 1911, then moved to England where he worked briefly with noted physicist J.J. Thomson at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory. He held a physics lectureship at Victoria University in Manchester, where he worked under Ernest Rutherford. Bohr was appointed Professor of Theoretical Physics at Copenhagen University in 1916. Four years later, the university established the Institute of Theoretical Physics, naming Bohr its director. He won the Nobel Prize in 1922 for his contributions to the knowledge of atomic structure. Toward the end of his life he developed an interest in molecular biology.
Heisenberg, and another German, Carl von Weizsacker, were in Copenhagen to speak at a German cultural institute. It is clear...
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