We’re on the cusp of a major push in scientific research. Much like the 1950s, our government is determined to pour more money and more resources into science so we can push ahead. This time, we’re not in a Space race, but a race to mitigate Global Warming. Anybody who tells you different is fibbing. The only way to get out of this mess (or at least alleviate some of it) is to rely on science to invent the technologies that can help us.
Recently, President Obama promised the nation’s scientists he would step up governmental and private funding for new Research and Development (R&D) projects, reversing its critical decline over the past 25 years. Citing America’s lagging role as a global leader in science and technology; the President said, we are dangerously close to following seriously behind other countries like India and China. Pointing to the 1950s as America’s ”high-water mark“ in funding science research., the President promised to spend more than $21.5 billion on Science from the 2009 Stimulus Package – particularly for projects addressingrenewable energy.
He said another goal was to make research and experiment tax credits permanent in the 2010 budget. While it is clear that President Obama strongly believes in the promise and potential of science, it is less clear whether Congress and the public supports a larger funding initiative for R&D. In the 1950s, shortly after WWII, and the public awareness of the role science played in ending the War, it was a different story. In 1958, (thanks to both public and private sources) the U.S spent $10 billion on science technology (far more than $21.5 billion in today’s dollars). There was widespread public enthusiasm and support for Science – especially as the U.S. raced into space, determined to put the first man on the moon (which took until the 1960s).
In case you’ve forgotten the major science breakthroughs in the 1950s (or maybe never even knew), here’s a list of some of the important scientific achievements, (listed in chronological order; some more vitally important than others). These achievements are a representative sampling of some of the successful technology and science discovered; Many of these discoveries have had a major impact on our lives. 1950-52:
1. First electric power from U.S. reactor. 2. First U.S. thermonuclear explosion. 3. Introduction of Coast-to-coast TV. 4. Large electronic computer delivered to the Bureau of Census. 5. Automation of the auto industry begins. 6. Bubble chamber for tracking atomic particles created. 7. Discovery of the brain’s arousal system. 8. Heart-lung machine first used on a human.1953-54 9. Proposed structure of DNA announced. 10. Solar batteries unveiled. 11, Tranquilizers introduced. 12, Introduction of both color and wide-screen TVs. 13. Nike missile revealed. 14. First supersonic flight by a military aircraft. 15. Discovery of reward center in the brain. 1955-56 16. vertical take-off and landing of jet aircraft. 17. Experimental use of oral contraceptives. 18. Mass use of Salk polio vaccine. 19. All-transistor radios introduced. 20. Transatlantic telephone cable introduced. 21. Nuclear-powered submarines unveiled. 1957-58 22. Discovery of cold fusion. 23. Synthetic diamonds produced. 24, First U.S. satellites and ICBM unveiled. 25. Stereo record technology developed. After WWII, a good deal of the money spent on scientific research went to the military, but the military’s discoveries carried over to civilian life and to other branches of science. Military funding for science, in fact, helped develop computer engineering and technologies leading to digital computing. Because it was the military complex’s scientific research that created the computing culture, some say it retains its “Cold War military perspective.”