Written By Shravya NB (Grade 10)
WAR. War is a simple three-letter word that invariably connects our thoughts to the loss of lives, destruction, and is known for taking things downhill. The consequences of war are generally linked to its negative effects and impacts. However, as much as wars induce negativity in our lives, wars necessitate the development of technology innovation and creation. In these darkest of times, the demand for advancement brings in a streak of positivity to our world.
One of the deadliest wars in the history of humans, the World War II is perhaps the costliest war in terms of human life. Air raids over cities, nuclear attacks on Japan, genocides like the Holocaust, premeditated death from starvation followed by fifty to eighty-five million fatalities, prove evidence to the fact that World War II was one of the deadliest wars.
Change that is necessitated by violence and brutality, is the ultimate consequence of any war, and this change can be either constructive or destructive in terms of economy, justice, and the nature of warfare itself. And World War II stands out in having a profound and permanent effect on life after 1945. On one hand, we have widespread destruction because of the war, but on the other, we also have evidence of the development in technology and innovation. Calamities act as catalysts for creation. Technologies developed as a necessity during World War II and found a place in the commercial markets after the end of the War.
Advancements in the medical field during times of war always have an upper hand because of the number of injuries and diseases caused to civilians and soldiers. The case was no different during the deadly World War II. The large-scale production of antibacterial treatment to treat millions of injured soldiers brought about one of the most important advances in medicine in the twentieth century. Antibacterial properties of Penicillin notatum had already been discovered but World War II initiated the commercial production of penicillin which was required to medicate the injured. Experiments on deep tank fermentation led to the discovery of the mass manufacture of penicillin. A surge in the production of penicillin enabled popularity for the antibiotic and established the antibiotic as a wonder drug responsible for saving millions of lives. From World War II to today, penicillin remains a critical form of treatment used to ward off bacterial infection.
Along with the commercial production of penicillin, World War II brought forth other momentous improvements in the field of medicine. Progress in the medical techniques of blood transfusions, skin grafts, and advances in trauma treatment was also seen during wartime, which play a major role in creating a healthier and longer-lived society.
A small, palm-sized device called Cavity Magnetron was an interesting invention that is recognized today for the microwaves it generates. The ability of this device to produce shorter microwave lengths resulted in increased accuracy over greater distances. After the end of the war, an American engineer named Percy Spencer who developed radar from combat looked for ways to apply the technology for commercial use and introduced the commercial microwaves that were made available to the civilians in 1970s and 1980s. Away from the warplanes and aircraft, cavity magnetrons have indeed found a new place in Americans’ homes and changed the way Americans warm their food.
Radar is now a vital component of meteorology. It was only after World War II that radar was applied to the study of weather. This radar technology facilitates meteorologists to predict the weather forecast better. Radar is a key way to track rainfall, storm systems and other weather conditions, thus helping evolve the field of meteorology
Development of computers which was already in progress well before the World War II was catalysed to produce new computers of unparalleled power. ENIAC or the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer was one of the first general-purpose computers that was originally designed for military purposes and gained popularity for its quick calculation ability. By the end of World War II, the patent for ENIAC computing technology entered the public domain. Unlike ENIAC, which stretched across 1500 square feet with a price tag of $400,000, the computers developed over the decades became progressively smaller, and affordable to the public and revolutionized the field of mathematics and computing.
The Great Economic Depression created a situation wherein a surplus of coffee beans was left unused in warehouses in Brazil, and in 1938, Nestle came up with a solution to preserve the coffee beans. Nestle instigated the process of drying coffee extract with carbohydrates which was using the same vacuum technology that was used to produce penicillin commercially. And this Freeze-dried coffee was of supreme quality and tasted better than the soluble coffee products that had been on the market before.
The icon of World War II, the atomic bomb, was developed amidst the race between the Axis and Allied powers during the war. The atomic bomb shaped the twentieth century and the standing of the United States on the global stage. Atomic bombs created a new era of science and technology used in making arms that changed the nature of diplomacy, size and power of military forces. The nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki serves as notable markers of the end of the fighting.
World War II extended the race between nations to the extent of space. The mid-twentieth century made way for the creation of a new federally-run program in aeronautics. When the Russians successfully launched their satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957, the United States had to launch their own satellite to keep the race going and launched Juno 1 four months later ensuing great progress in the field of aeronautics.
World War II is an ideal example of a high-tech war. Its innovations have become a part of our daily lives today. Innovations and wars are intertwined, and along with the perks of technology that we enjoy, we need to accept those inventions as well, which are known to destroy the world. Technology knows no morality, it is only the intentions and desires of the person making use of it, that can be defined as good or bad, and it is we who can either use or misuse the power of science that we have built ourselves.
Featured Image Courtesy – Change Logic