Wartime is generally perceived as a time of great duress with incredibly high stakes. It can be tough to think that some of the most important scientific advances in human were born in the throes of war. But if war (ideally) is the ultimate expression of necessity, and necessity is the mother of invention, this point may find greater traction. Historically, in times of war, production goes up, spending goes down, the nation is mobilized and focused toward progress and supportive of innovation. What does than mean? Consider the list below and decide for yourself.
1. Atomic Energy – Absurdly efficient energy source capable of powering (or obliterating ) a large city. Used widely throughout the world. WWII
2. Anesthesia – the use of Chloroform began in the Civil War to aid Battlefield Surgeons efforts to cleanly and humanely process the injured soldiers. Shortly thereafter the movement began to gain traction in the private sector, improving medical care by cleaner surgeries and fewer infections. US Civil War.
3. Computer – We live in a wired society. Computers are part of the fabric of our daily lives at work, in the car or at home. Originally conceived and designed during WWII as a code breaking aid. WWII
4. Internet – Conceived and designed in the late 1970’s during the height of the cold war as a defense against nuclear war. The thought was that if vital government information could be stored in a virtual environment, it would be impossible to take out communications at one location. The effect of this advancement is obvious to anyone reading this. Cold War
5. Satellite Technology – The “Space Race” fueled by the underlying Cold War gave rise to an invention that facilitated better, safer, and more meaningful intelligence gathering activities. Modern day commercial applications have expanded to include the advent of GPS, and of course cable television and wireless internet. Cold War
6. Penicillin – Discovered around the turn of the 20th century, this simple drug which came to prominence during WWII has saved Billions of lives from previously deadly bacterial infections. WWI and WWII
7. Rubber – As the Allied forces scrambled to produce the equipment that would facilitate victory against the Axis powers, a major breakthrough came with the invention of synthetic rubber. Prior to this rubber was harvested via “rubber trees” in the South Pacific and Latin/South America. The invention allowed commercial ventures to explode and grow the American economy to the world’s leading economic power. The most obvious application? Automobile tires. WWII
8. Jet Engine – Aeronautic technologies were able to “take off” in WWII & the Korean War Conflict with the invention of higher octane, more efficient super fuels, stronger and lighter engines and advances in aerodynamic engineering. Howard Hughes, the filmmaker, billionaire industrialist and international playboy pioneered many technologies which ensured unrivaled American Air superiority to this very day. WWII & Korean Conflict
9. Submarine – Incredibly, while the notion of maritime submersible vehicles have been “floating” around since the early 1600’s, the first rudimentary (yet viable) submarine was launched in 1775. American Revolutionary War
10. Pepto Bismol – Pink Bismuth may not mean much to most, but for those of us this summer who suffer with the occasional post-hot dog heartburn this is a lifesaver. Originally conceived during WWII, this product was introduced commercially directly after the war. And the rest is