Great strides were made in American science during the 1950s. Major inventions and discoveries were almost daily events, and previously ignored technology improved upon and made commercially applicable. The field of science seemed to change overnight. Previously, the scientist generally worked alone or, perhaps, with a student assistant or two. He (most scientists were men in the 1950s) worked with minimal equipment and funding to find answers to questions that interested him. The questions changed over time as scientific interests—and budgets—changed. During the 1950s people turned to scientists to solve their problems more often than ever before.
The massive military projects of World War II demonstrated that large groups of scientists could be brought together to work with each other toward a specified research goal. The most significant example is the production of the atomic bomb. Because of the urgency of the project, the government provided expensive equipment and huge research budgets, both of which shortened the time between the idea and its practical application. The need to convince people who controlled the money for scientific projects to provide funding made science a more disciplined pursuit: scientists were forced to state their goals in advance and to conduct specific experiments to...
(The entire section is 532 words.)
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