History of Modern American
Science and Technology
Session 3
World War II
The Atomic Bomb
Scientific Management
• Scientific Management or Taylorism, late 19th
century and early 20th century
– Part of drive for technological system
– System consisted not only of devices such as
railroads, telephones, or light bulbs, but also people
(workers, managers, and customers) and
management structures
– Frederick Taylor started time-motion studies.
– He provided theoretical foundations for business
management, business administration, or MBA
– Criticism—it treated workers as machine parts—and
praise: it opened management or white collar jobs
esp. for women and pioneered industrial psychology
and ergonomics.
– Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936)
Manhattan Project
• Convergence of New Scientific Revolution and
Development of Technological System
• Revolution in Physics: Quantum and Relativity
Theories, 1900-1926
• Nuclear Physics, 1920s and 1930s
• Discovery of Fission, 1938-1939
• Rise of American Physics, 1920s and 1930s
• Manhattan Project: Physics, Engineering, and
Atomic Bomb
• Office of Scientific Research and Development
(OSRD) under Vannevar Bush, est. June 1941
• Expansion of Atomic Bomb Project, December
• Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941
• Chicago Pile 1, December 1942
• Oak Ridge (uranium) and Hanford (plutonium)
• Los Alamos under J. Robert Oppenheimer,
1943-1945, assembly of bombs
Use of Atomic Bombs
• Some scientists argued against the use of the
– Franck Report of 1945: it would start a nuclear arms
race and drive the Soviet Union to get the bomb
• Truman and his advisors: Use of bomb in Japan
would shorten the war, prevent Soviet
occupation of Japan, and show American power
• Some advisors wanted to end the war without
the use of the bomb—by allowing Japan to
surrender and keep its emperor—but they were
• Hiroshima, August 6, and Nagasaki, August 9,
Potsdam Conference, July-August
• Truman initially went to meeting with
Churchill and Stalin to get Russians into
war against Japan
• Once news of atomic bomb test came, he
no longer needed Stalin
Atomic Bomb
• Last act of World War II
• First Act of Cold War
• Science and technology became key to national
• Science and government became connected
• Scientists and engineers became prominent
public figures
• Some scientists felt social responsibilities for the
use of their discoveries
Comments and Questions
• Overall impression: very good comments and
questions; comparable to American students;
English is quite good; I am glad to see some of
you revising your worksheets and correct errors
on your own.
• Did the Soviet launch of Sputnik affect Chinese
– There is evidence that Mao Zedong was inspired, in
part, by Sputnik, to launch the Great Leap Forward
movement in 1958.
• How could the inventors produce so many
– Opportunities were there
– Necessity was the mother of inventions
– “Reverse salients” or critical problems
• “I am wondering how do Dr. Wang think about
the environmental situation in China from a view
of scientific history?”
– First, correct the sentence
– Answers: I can teach a course on this; political reform
is necessary; turn environment into job opportunities.
• Should senior scientists, like Steven Chu,
turn into administrators?
– Yes, and no.
– Some, like Dick Feynman, never wanted to
become an administrator.
– Others, like Oppenheimer, became
– Science and society need both types.
• Why was it so easy for the inventors to transfer
their inventions into products?
– Market system
– Private sector to private sector
– How quickly can an invention turn into an application
depends on the invention itself, the market, and social
and political environment.
• Can we learn more about Obama’s new energy
– Go to www.energy.gov
• Can you give more details about the examples
mentioned in the Hughes book?
– Sorry, we don’t have time
– Go to the footnotes to look for books and articles on specific
• Didn’t GE go bankrupt?
– No, it’s not GE, but GM.
• How do American scientists view basic and applied
– Most still value basic research more than applied research, but
many scientists work to convert their discoveries into
applications, especially in biomedical fields.
• Many questions on: how China should respond
to the changes in science and technology in the
US and elsewhere?
– More later in the class, and perhaps eventually a new
course on Chinese science and technology in the
international context
– Specific points: continued political, economic, and
legal reforms to establish a democratic, stable, open,
and dynamic science and technology policy system;
attract overseas Chinese scientists and scholars to
return permanently or in short periods; use the
economic recession to focus on energy and
environment to create new jobs
• Langdon Winner?
– I know him and his work; he was the HixonRiggs professor at Harvey Mudd several
years before me.
– He is known for arguing that technologies and
artifacts sometimes will have political
meanings separate from their creators
• What’s point of the article on stereotypes?
– Your self-perception matters in the learning
– Try to think of yourself as an investigator, not
merely as a student
– You can produce creative thoughts even in a
class project
– My first two published papers were seminar
– Two senior theses I supervised were
published in scholarly journals
• Are there bureaucracy and frauds in
American science?
– Yes, but perhaps not as serious as in China
• You can print double-sided
• You should staple everything you turn in
for each session
• Videos on Edison and Ford available from
Hao Jun
• Too much materials and too little time?
– Try to do as much as you can
– Minimum: skim the reading assignments, fill out the
worksheets, come to class, watch the videos, write
video reviews, and turn in 2-page term paper and 2page final exam.
– More advanced students: try to do more of the
readings and write longer term papers and final
– There is no better class to practice “intentional
learning” than this class: if you put in minimum efforts
you will pass, and you can practically do whatever
you want to achieve your learning objectives.
• What should I do if I want to explore the subject
– Go to some of the links from the course website
– www.nytimes.com has a very good science section
– Get my book 《在卫星的阴影下》!
• Why don’t we have a golden age of tech
– Actually today is a remarkable era of tech
development; best period in 5000 years of Chinese
history; leap-frog strategy; still many problems of
How to Improve Your English?
• Try to pay attention not only to the
information but also to the grammar and
style when you read English articles;
• Try to read English publications regularly;
• Try to write a three-sentence summary of
an article after you read it without looking
at it, and then read it again
More Tips on English Writing
• Five-paragraph Essay
– First paragraph: start with an interesting story
or quote related to the topic; then tell the
reader the main point you are going to make.
– Second, third, and fourth paragraphs: support
your main point from three different aspects or
with three different examples.
– Fifth paragraph: summarize your main point
again and tell the reader how your examples
have supported your main point.
For Example
• Topic: Atomic Bomb as a Technological System
• First paragraph: Start with the fact (I believe) that the
atomic bomb project used more electricity than the auto
industry at Detroit, then state your argument that the
Manhattan Project was, like the auto industry, a
technological system
• 2nd, 3rd, and 4th paragraph: network of installations,
management structure/role of government, science and
technology working together
• 5th paragraph: Manhattan was not only a technological
system, but represented a new kind of technological

History of Modern American Science and Technology Session 3