Culture--- Science



Science and technology in the United States has a long history, producing many important figures and developments in the field. The United States of America came into being around the Age of Enlightenment (1685 to 1815), an era in Western philosophy in which writers and thinkers, rejecting the perceived superstitions of the past, instead chose to emphasize the intellectual, scientific and cultural life, centered upon the 18th century, in which reason was advocated as the primary source for legitimacy and authority. Enlightenment philosophers envisioned a "republic of science," where ideas would be exchanged freely and useful knowledge would improve the lot of all citizens.The United States Constitution itself reflects the desire to encourage scientific creativity. It gives the United States Congress the power "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.This clause formed the basis for the U.S. patent and copyright systems, whereby creators of original art and technology would get a government granted monopoly, which after a limited period would become free to all citizens, thereby enriching the public domain.


During the 19th century, BritainFrance, and Germany were at the forefront of new ideas in science and mathematics.[18][19] But if the United States lagged behind in the formulation of theory, it excelled in using theory to solve problems: applied science. This tradition had been born of necessity. Because Americans lived so far from the well-springs of Western science and manufacturing, they often had to figure out their own ways of doing things. When Americans combined theoretical knowledge with "Yankee ingenuity", the result was a flow of important inventions. The great American inventors include Robert Fulton (the steamboat); Samuel Morse (thetelegraph); Eli Whitney (the cotton gin); Cyrus McCormick (the reaper); and Thomas Alva Edison, the most fertile of them all, with more than a thousand inventions credited to his name.Edison was not always the first to devise a scientific application, but he was frequently the one to bring an idea to a practical finish. For example, the British engineer Joseph Swan built an incandescent electric lamp in 1860, almost 20 years before Edison. But Edison'slight bulbs lasted much longer than Swan's, and they could be turned on and off individually, while Swan's bulbs could be used only in a system where several lights were turned on or off at the same time. Edison followed up his improvement of the light bulb with the development of electrical generating systems. Within 30 years, his inventions had introduced electric lighting into millions of homes.


Another landmark application of scientific ideas to practical uses was the innovation of the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright. In the 1890s they became fascinated with accounts of German glider experiments and began their own investigation into the principles of flight. Combining scientific knowledge and mechanical skills, the Wright brothers built and flew several gliders. Then, on December 17, 1903, they successfully flew the first heavier-than-air, mechanically propelledairplane.An American invention that was barely noticed in 1947 went on to usher in the Information Age. In that year John Bardeen,William Shockley, and Walter Brattain of Bell Laboratories drew upon highly sophisticated principles of quantum physics to invent the transistor, a small substitute for the bulky vacuum tube. This, and a device invented 10 years later, the integrated circuit, made it possible to package enormous amounts of electronics into tiny containers. As a result, book-sized computers of today can outperform room-sized computers of the 1960s, and there has been a revolution in the way people live – in how they work, study, conduct business, and engage in research.World War II had a profound impact on the development of science and technology in the United States. Before World War II, the federal government basically did not assume responsibility for supporting scientific development. During the war, the federal government and science formed a new cooperative relationship. After the war, the federal government became the main role in supporting science and technology. And in the following years, the federal government supported the establishment of a national modern science and technology system, making American a world leader in science and technology.


Part of America's past and current preeminence in applied science has been due to its vast research and development budget, which at $401.6bn in 2009 was more than double that of China's $154.1bn and over 25% greater than the European Union's $297.9bn.For the past 80 years, the United States has been integral in fundamental advances in telecommunications and technology. For example, AT&T's Bell Laboratories spearheaded the American technological revolution with a series of inventions including the first practical light emitted diode (LED), the transistor, the C programming language, and theUnix computer operating system. SRI International and Xerox PARC in Silicon Valley helped give birth to the personal computer industry, while ARPA and NASA funded the development of the ARPANET and the Internet.Herman Hollerith was just a twenty-year-old engineer when he realized the need for a better way for the U.S. government to conduct their Census and then proceeded to develop electromechanical tabulators for that purpose. The net effect of the many changes from the 1880 census: the larger population, the data items to be collected, the Census Bureau headcount, the scheduled publications, and the use of Hollerith's electromechanical tabulators, was to reduce the time required to process the census from eight years for the 1880 census to six years for the 1890 census. That kick started The Tabulating Machine Company. By the 1960s, the company name had been changed to International Business Machines, and IBM dominated business computing. IBM revolutionized the industry by bringing out the first comprehensive family of computers (theSystem/360). It caused many of their competitors to either merge or go bankrupt, leaving IBM in an even more dominant position.IBM is known for its many inventions like the floppy disk, introduced in 1971, supermarket checkout products, and introduced in 1973, the IBM 3614 Consumer Transaction Facility, an early form of today's Automatic Teller Machines.Running almost in tandem with the Atomic Age has been the Space Age. American Robert Goddard was one of the first scientists to experiment with rocket propulsion systems. In his small laboratory in Worcester, Massachusetts, Goddard worked with liquid oxygen and gasoline to propel rockets into the atmosphere, and in 1926 successfully fired the world's first liquid-fuel rocket which reached a height of 12.5 meters. Over the next 10 years, Goddard's rockets achieved modest altitudes of nearly two kilometers, and interest in rocketry increased in the United States, Britain, Germany, and the Soviet Union.As Allied forces advanced during World War II, both the American and Russian forces searched for top German scientists who could be claimed as spoils for their country. The American effort to bring home German rocket technology in Operation Paperclip, and the bringing of German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun (who would later sit at the head of a NASA center) stand out in particular.Expendable rockets provided the means for launching artificial satellites, as well as crewed spacecraft. In 1957 theSoviet Union launched the first satellite, Sputnik 1, and the United States followed with Explorer 1in 1958. The first human spaceflights were made in early 1961, first by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and then by American astronaut Alan Shepard.From those first tentative steps, to the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon and the partially reusableSpace Shuttle, the American space program brought forth a breathtaking display of applied science. Communications satellites transmit computer data, telephone calls, and radio and television broadcasts. Weather satellites furnish the data necessary to provide early warnings of severe storms. Global positioning satellites were first developed in the US starting around 1972, and became fully operational by 1994. Interplanetary probes and space telescopes began a golden age of planetary science and advanced a wide variety of astronomical work.