Science and Invention in War
The Silent Service
We often called the recent conflict a mechanized war but Winston Churchill, also had this to say - "This is a V-boat war - hard and bitter - a war of science and seamanship." And the events certainly confirmed this - we learned to combat as well as use the submarine. In the Pacific, our American submarines alone sank over 900 Japanese ships.
The submarine came about by a process of evolution. It is the culmination of over 500 years of study and research on the part of many men in many countries. We know that even before the time of Columbus, an unknown inventor built a submarine boat to smuggle men across a river, and in 1586 an Italian, Ganibelli, destroyed a bridge near Antwerp using a nearly submerged boat loaded with gun powder.
About the time the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, Van Drebbel, a Dutchman, invented the first under water boat to carry a crew. Symons, an Englishman, over a hundred years later contributed the idea of. using leather water bottles as adjustable ballast tanks, And David Bushnell of George Washington's day equipped his one man submarine, "The Turtle," with a screw propeller. Robert Fulton in 1805 demonstrated a torpedo-carrying submarine blowing up a 200-ton brig thereby showing the military possibilities of the device.
The essential features of the successful submarine were beginning to take shape. Bushnell provided the screw propeller, Symons the ballast system and Fulton the torpedo.
These things were at last combined during our Civil War in a semi-submersible, steam-driven Confederate ship named the "David." Early in February, 1865, she sank the U.S.S. Housatonic at Charleston, South Carolina - marking the first warship to be destroyed by a submarine.
The modern version is the work of two Americans - John Holland and Simon Lake. John Holland, like the previous inventors, saw in the submarine a new and effective weapon. He studied the unique boat while teaching in St. John's Parochial School in Paterson, New Jersey. In 1875 he built his first model but it was a failure, as practically all first models are. Not discouraged by this, he kept working, and six years later he made a successful demonstration to the Navy Department.
Encouraged by these results, he gave up his teaching and devoted all of his time to perfecting the submarine. He built ship after ship and in 1898 launched his ninth - the "Holland." It was driven on the surface by a 50 horsepower gasoline engine, and under water by an electric motor and storage batteries. It was very successful and in 1900 he demonstrated it to a Naval Committee off Newport.
Admiral Dewey was so enthusiastic that he made the following statement, "If the enemy had had two of those boats at Manila, I could not have held it with my squadron." Holland's contemporary, Simon Lake, wanted to build a submarine to salvage wrecked ships and their valuable cargoes from the bottom of the sea. His first attempt resembled an underwater airship but was not too successful so he built a second - the Argonaut Junior. After the tests, he abandoned the salvage idea and turned his attention to the Naval type of submarine. Among Lake's contributions were the hydroplanes used to maintain a constant depth while submerged. This system is still used on our modern craft.
Japan quickly purchased five Holland submarines in 1900 but Germany did not build one until 1908, using Holland's design and Rudolph Diesel's new engine. However, she quickly took advantage of the new weapon's possibilities as demonstrated by the blockade of Britain in 1917.
Admiral Sims said, "If Germany could have kept fifty submarines constantly at work early in 1917, nothing could have prevented her from winning the war." Knowing this, Germany concentrated in the recent war on the Battle of the Atlantic. This is still fresh in our minds.
As originators of the modern submarine, American inventive genius has continued to work. Our new Diesel engines and thousands of detail inventions supported by the aggressive policies of our Navy have produced a most effective weapon. However, the history of the development of the submarine over hundreds of years should serve to bring to our minds one thing of prime importance. Ideas grow slowly and may require the work of many inventors. The lack of ideas and inventions in one generation can easily mean the loss of Freedom in the next.
There is Always a Frontier
In "The Talisman," there is the Crusade incident where King Richard and Saladin demonstrated the merits of their weapons. Richard, with a tremendous stroke of his broad sword, severed a bar of iron. Saladin, in contrast, with his flexible, keen-edged scimitar neatly cut in two a soft pillow. This was more than an entertaining demonstration, it was a comparison of two samples of steel made by different methods, and shows the state of the blacksmith's or steelmaker's art in the 12th century.
But even in the Middle Ages, the steelmaker's trade was a very old one. Thirteen hundred years before that, the Romans defeated the Celts because the swords used by Celts were poorly tempered and had to be straightened after each blow.
In those days, each blacksmith had trade secrets which he had developed himself, or which had been handed down to him by his father. These blacksmiths knew that they had to have good metal to start with; each added his own particular brand of skill along with a little good luck. The latter was very important. Some craftsmen, however, produced consistently fine materials. For instance, the Damascus blade was notable because of its flexibility and strength. Its steel contained a great deal of carbon which normally makes metal hard and brittle. But the sword-maker would heat the blade and hammer it and re-heat and hammer it again and again until he had changed the entire structure of the metal. The more it was hammered the more flexible it became, yet it retained its hardness.
These blacksmiths were not metallurgists or steel experts in the modern sense, yet they obtained very good results. When they discovered a good thing, they treasured it and passed it on to their sons. In this way, the art of working steel progressively was improved.
When the Machine Age came along and such things could be done quickly, it became the custom to make steel parts with highly polished surfaces. And out of this grew a theory that a part which had been highly finished would give much better service than one with a rough surface. Indeed, a highly finished surface became a symbol of superior quality.
A few years ago, our Research Laboratories received a simple, flat spring, that was nicely polished, but was giving trouble. In fact, it would break regularly when flexed only about 2,000 times. So we were asked to design a new spring to fit into the very limited space where it would have to work. In a similar problem we had done some experimenting, and had developed a treatment for increasing the life of such parts. It consisted of bombarding or hammering the surface with thousands of little steel shot. In that way we simply substituted thousands of such little blows for the blacksmith's hammer. But in this process, we lost the mirror finish.
We gave the sample spring this shot treatment and sent it back to the makers for a test. To their surprise, instead of breaking when it was flexed 2,000 times, they found that it would now withstand more than two million such cycles without breaking - an improvement of 100,000 per cent. Although this high per cent improvement was an exception, gains of 50, 100 or 500 per cent on various parts are now quite common. Yet, all we did was to question the theory of the polished surface, and apply a modern version of a very old art.
This new information turned out to be of great value in the war. We know, for example, that engineers are constantly trying to increase the power of airplane engines without increasing their weight. This means that engine parts must be made stronger to carry greater loads. On many pieces, shot blasting was a simple and quick way. Now some engine parts that formerly developed a thousand horsepower are carrying a 50 per cent greater load. No weight has been added. They have simply been given this new treatment. And, as in the case of the Romans and the Celts, this improvement in weapons might mean the difference between a defeat and a victory.
Shot blasting gives an encouraging perspective. The trade of the steelmaker is thousands of years old - one of the most ancient and useful known to man. It has been a most important trade in war and peace, and the best brains and talent have been applied to it through all these years. Research men are always optimistic, but their optimism increases if they can make a contribution to such a highly developed industry, for then they can see endless opportunities in newer and less explored fields.
We know very little about anything, and there exist limitless opportunities for us in every industry if we will think and work. Or, to put it another way, there will always be a frontier where there is an open mind and a willing hand.
During the War, Metz appeared frequently in the reports from the battlefronts - the Allied armies had it under siege. The history of Metz is interesting because it is so typical of many other European cities. Our country is comparatively young and it is difficult for us to appreciate that this city had already been a battleground for 1500 years before America was discovered.
It all started as a matter of geography. Over 2,000 years ago, an ancient tribe of Gauls decided to settle at a likely looking spot on the Moselle River. The surrounding country was fertile and the town prospered and grew. We first hear of it in Julius Caesar's account of the Gallic Wars when he captured it in about the year 55 B.C. They called the place Mediomatrica which was later shortened to Metz. The Romans, as was the custom, built forts around the city and installed an aqueduct to supply water.
For several hundred years the town grew until in the 5th century it was plundered by Attila's Huns. Then for centuries Metz became a battleground for warring peoples - the French to the south and the Germans to the north. For 1500 years this city has been torn between two civilizations and, as a consequence, has literally armed itself to the teeth with forts and other defenses to protect itself from attack either north or south.
At the treaty of Westphalia in 1648, Metz, along with Toul and Verdun, was ceded to France and comparative peace reigned for over 200 years, until 1870, when in the Franco-Prussian War it was captured by the Germans. This was the first time in hundreds of years that this famous fortress had succumbed to an enemy.
The War of 1870 was fought a little differently from Caesar's campaigns. Instead of Roman swords and spears, the Germans used cavalry and sabers together with infantry and guns. One of the hardest battles of the Franco-Prussian War was fought before Metz - its main feature was a great cavalry duel with 2,000 horsemen on each side. In August, 1870, Metz was encircled - 150,000 French soldiers were squeezed into the Fortress. The Germans were unable to capture the city by frontal assault so they used another weapon - starvation.
By the end of September the rations inside of the town had been reduced to such an extent that the French soldiers were slaughtering their horses. When October rolled around, the end was in sight; and on October 13th - just seventy-four years ago, negotiation began for the surrender. Metz had fallen and as a city in Alsace-Lorraine became a part of the German Empire.
Then began the period of reconversion for the Alsaciennes. The children were taught a new language, new customs, and lived under a new type of government. And as we know, this continued until 1918 when the citizens of Metz welcomed the victorious Allied army with cheers and flowers. Metz had once again rejoined France.
We all know the beginning of the recent chapter - France's surrender in 1940 and Germany's reoccupation of Metz. Later the picture again changed - the Americans hammered at the forts of Metz and their German occupants. It was not cavalry and sabers this time - it was heavy shells, flame-throwers, airplane bombs and oxy-acetylene torches that melt through the steel doors in the underground passageways.
It really makes no difference if it is a Roman sword or a 240 millimeter shell - these are just weapons that the people of the time think suitable for warfare. If it is 2000 years ago or today, we find at the bottom of these hundreds and thousands of years of war human nature's desire to conquer. Science has been accused of aiding and abetting wars - but men fought and died years before the invention of gunpowder, the internal combustion engine, the submarine, airplane, sulfa drugs or Penicillin..
Fortunately for civilization, the arts and sciences are not so jealous of boundaries, races or creeds. In this same province at Strasbourg, Louis Pasteur was a teacher, and the German author Goethe, a student. At some future date, men may find it more profitable to devote their time and energy to finding facts, and less to the destructive habit of centuries, fighting. After all, these 2000 years of war have settled absolutely nothing.
I have great faith in the future, for while a Metz may be constantly at the mercy of power-seeking men and always subject to their selfish plans, the accumulated works of scientists, writers, and composers remain as a useful heritage long after the intrigues and ambitions of the warlords are gone and forgotten.
The Four Horsemen
At midnight, tonight [January 31, 1944], we shall have passed through another critical year in American history and this would seem to be an appropriate time to go over our books and take stock of our position.
We have behind us over three years of world-wide conflict. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse War, Famine, Pestilence and Death - have ridden over the face of the earth leaving in their wake Misery and Despair.
Millions of lives and the production of other millions have been lost. All over the World peaceloving people labor earnestly to satisfy the demands of war. This accumulated toll of suffering and the loss of lives and property must be entered on the ledger as part of the price our generation has paid to save the World from tyranny and aggression. And the Four Horsemen still ride! But the picture is not as black as it was last year - or the year before when the books were audited. In fact we are able to recognize the first streaks of light that will herald the new day bringing with it Victory and Peace. Recently, I read an article in which the author said that Peace as well as conflict must have Four Horsemen. He named the horsemen of Peace as Hope, Good Sense, Experience and Science.
In analyzing these imaginary riders we must remember they were the choice of one man. It is quite likely that you would select different ones. Peace will mean many different things depending on each individual's outlook and the degree to which he or she has been affected by this conflict. It is important that each of us pick our horsemen for Peace very carefully, because if they do not ride well, the ancient horsemen will surely return.
However let us examine the suggested riders for Peace. The first, Hope - down through history man has constantly held fast to the hope that someday men will learn to live together on this Earth in Peace and contentment. This Hope will be reborn when peace comes again. As our knowledge increases and we see more of what the Future can hold, we naturally grow optimistic. But we must temper our optimism with realism and that brings us to the second Horseman - Good Sense.
Since the days of Washington, Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin we Americans have been firm believers in common sense. We established a government and a way of doing things that has made us the most powerful and prosperous Nation in the World. We should hold fast to the principle of common sense, which is a good mixture of Willingness to Work, Tolerance, Honesty and Thrift. With the coming of Peace we shall again be torn between Idealism and Realism. It is something like driving a car along a dangerous road - Common Sense is the steering wheel that can keep us from running off the road on either side.
Our third horseman of Peace is Experience. We have learned many things in this War - some good some bad. But when we approach Peace there is one thing that will stand out prominently.
A country which, in the short space of a couple of years, can convert from almost a hundred per cent commercial nation into the World's greatest military power must have some asset of tremendous value. This is the "know how" of the manufacturing world - but outside of this group it would probably be labelled "experience and good judgment." And when the day comes to again beat our swords into ploughshares, this horseman of Experience will be there showing us how to do it.
The last of the writer's horsemen of Peace is Science. In reality he actually leads the way. Although the march of science has been slowed by the Four Ancient Horsemen, Science in return has made these destructive riders much less effective and ghastly. Not so many new things have come out of this War as new ways of using some of the old ones. We have learned many things about medicine, fuels, foods, the weather, airplanes, radio - and people. With the coming of Peace we can use this knowledge to help uncover new facts and new ways of building a better civilization.
The horizons of Tomorrow are limitless - thousands of useful discoveries are lying near the surface waiting for the open mind and willing hand to uncover them..
Tonight as we turn over that page on the calendar let us do it with a prayer that next year, at this time, the Four Horsemen of Conflict will be fading from sight and those of Peace will be with us. When that time comes we will need great patience, for we must remember that whatever Horsemen of Peace we may choose, they will not be magicians - it always takes much longer to rebuild than it does to destroy.
Lady of the Lamp
Today [March 11, 1945], the Red Cross is appealing to the American people for continued support for its magnificent work of alleviating human pain and suffering the World over. We perhaps can better appreciate just what this means in time of War, by a brief review of the career of a woman who nearly 100 years ago opened the eyes of the World to the new science of nursing. We know her as Florence Nightingale, but to the soldiers she was better known as the Angel of Crimea or simply as the Lady of the Lamp.
Florence Nightingale was born 125 years ago in Florence, Italy. Unlike so many of our other pioneers, she was the daughter of wealthy English parents and reared more or less in luxury. As a young woman, she became somewhat of a problem to her parents. They saw she was not happy in being just a young lady of fashion. She had, what was to them, an unhealthy and unnatural interest in Nursing. Nursing in those days was far from what we know today. A hundred years ago the majority of hospitals were centers of misery, suffering and in too many cases, dirt.
But, despite all this, Florence still wanted to be a nurse, and finally persuaded her parents to let her attend the Deaconess Training School at Kaiserwerth in Germany. For two years she studied and worked under rigorous conditions but in. stead of being discouraged, she wrote her mother, "This is Life! I wish for no other world but this."
About this time, the Crimean War between England and Russia broke out and a vicious battle was fought on the little Black Sea peninsula. The British were victorious but the joy at home was short-lived. Reports began to filter back to London of the terrific loss of life - not so much on the battlefield but in the military hospitals. In fact, over 400 out of every thousand in the hospitals were dying. Sidney Herbert, British Secretary at War and friend of the Nightingales, was at a loss as to just what to do until he thought of Florence. And she, in turn, saw this as just the chance for which she had been waiting. So, after carefully collecting a large store of supplies, she arrived at the battlefront in November 1854 with her 38 nurses just after the Battle of Balaklava.
The conditions on her arrival were much blacker than they had been painted in England. As she herself said, "The sanitary conditions of the hospital were inferior to the poorest homes in the worst section of any large city. Often the wounded men were left lying in their fighting clothes." And there was also the red tape that delayed and often prevented getting the simplest of medical supplies. Probably no one woman was ever faced with such a huge and disheartening task. In one hospital alone, the line of wounded stretched almost four miles.
By working at times for 20 hours at a stretch, Florence Nightingale and her nurses brought order out of chaos. First came cleanliness, a novel thing in those days before Lister's antiseptics and Pasteur's germ theory.
One of her first orders was for 200 scrub brushes to clean the floors. Then came a laundry and a hospital kitchen - a kitchen that could supply the right kind of food for the patients. And when her supplies began to run low, she proceeded to cut the red tape to get more.
In less than six months, she had set up an entirely new system and established a storehouse to receive and distribute supplies. The death rate fell in less than six months after her coming from 420 in a thousand to less than twenty-two, a reduction of almost 95%.
But her greatest contribution was in the role of ministering angel. Long after the hospital had settled down for the night, the Lady of the Lamp could be seen making her solitary rounds through the endless rows of wounded - a smile here, a word of comfort there, or a cool hand on a fevered brow. To the soldiers she was an angel, she called them "her children" and would spend hours writing messages back home to their relatives and loved ones. This was the beginning of the spirit of the Red Cross.
Today, we have with us a War which completely dwarfs that Crimean conflict, but because of our great military hospitals, thousands of the best doctors and tens of thousands of nurses, the toll of human life is but a fraction of one per cent of those wounded in battle. But there is another important factor that cannot be so readily evaluated - the factor of human compassion. Yesterday its symbol was Florence Nightingale - today it is the Red Cross. We cannot all serve in the same manner as the Lady of the Lamp - but since it is impossible to be with our loved ones overseas, we can do for them the next best thing - our American Red Cross.
An Idea Explodes
As no one can predict who will make an invention or how it will be used, we should not be surprised when we learn that seven hundred years ago an English monk carefully wrote this down, "I have produced an explosion that outroared thunder and with a flash that exceeded the brilliance of lightning." Roger Bacon hid this formula in a Latin cryptogram which said, "Take seven parts of saltpeter, five of charcoal and five of sulphur." When he wrote down these dozen words, Bacon probably had no idea they might later influence the whole course of civilization because, as you know, he was describing gunpowder, the first of the great family of explosives.
He may have had some conception after all of the possibilities of the mixture because he was a remarkable, farseeing man who not only experimented with chemical combinations but also predicted the use of the steamship, the automobile and the airplane, and described in detail the magnifying or reading glass.
Roger Bacon lived near the end of the Dark Ages - the days of the alchemists and the Black Arts. But even in those days of superstition, he was a strong advocate of the fundamentals of modern research. He stated it this way, "Take nothing for granted - use your own eyes and test all new theories with your own hands." Roger Bacon by his work in philosophy laid the foundation for modern scientific research. He wrote once that his gunpowder mixture might completely blow up an opposing army or put it to flight by the terror of the explosion; however, he made no mention of using it in firearms.
It wasn't until after his death that the cannon was first mentioned. There is an Arabic account of a cannon in 1303 and in Oxford, England, a picture dated 1326 shows what was called a "dart-throwing vase." Edward III used wooden cannon and a weapon consisting of one hundred and forty-four barrels in groups of twelve - an idea not unlike our rocket batteries of today.
When Mohammed II besieged Constantinople in 1453, he had thirteen large guns called bombards and fifty-six small cannon. The bombards were immense - requiring sixty oxen to pull them into place. They threw stones thirty inches in diameter which weighed three quarters of a ton. But since it took two hours to load them, they could fire only a few times each day. However, the new weapon was effective and Mohammed's army battered its way into the city in less than two months and ended the Roman Empire in the East.
The invention of gunpowder and the subsequent development of the cannon and musket emphasize the importance of Roger Bacon's work as a bridge between the Dark Ages and the beginning of the new scientific era. He knew his methods of careful experimentation were at odds with the superstition and guesswork of his time because he was often thrown into jail. He realized that his theories and experiments belonged more to the future than to his own time.
Yet it is hardly possible that he could have foreseen the great commercial and industrial applications of his ideas, for just as the steam engine and the internal combustion engine were used first in industry and then became important factors in the conduct of war, so gunpowder, developed and first used in war, made an even greater contribution to industry in such places as mines, quarries, clearing of new lands, digging irrigation ditches and in many other applications. In fact, the development of explosives from the work of Roger Bacon has been taken by some to be the beginning of the age of industrial chemistry.
We are fortunate indeed that our peacetime use of explosives has been so great that the production of military needs were met with no unusual difficulty.
The millions of shells from thousands of guns and the bombs used by our airplanes on all the battlefronts are the evidences of just a part of what came from the idea born seven centuries ago.
No one can sit in judgment of any new born idea and say what its future uses may be. We in this country will always encourage the new things and develop them for their greatest peacetime use just as we have with the airplane, the automobile, the radio, 100 octane gas, and thousands of other things.
These industrial developments in the hands of our army and navy can then become a major factor in our national defense and serve as a basis for our military production in times of war.
Unraveling the Atom
Because of its dramatic appearance, the study of atomic power is likely to be regarded as very new. But actually the atomic bomb is the unexpected climax of the work of hundreds of men and women of many nationalities who have patiently been at work for the past 75 years. Here are a few highlights from the well known history.
In 1879 Sir William Crookes discovered that when high voltage electricity was sent through an evacuated glass tube a peculiar set of rays was generated. These were called "Cathode Rays."
Later, Sir J. J. Thomson of the Cavendish Laboratories at Cambridge University studied these rays and demonstrated they were particles of negative electricity which he named "Electrons," They are the lightest particles which are found in the structure of the atom.
In 1895 the World was startled by Roentgen's x-rays which are produced by using these electrons to bombard metal targets in a vacuum. This discovery prompted the Frenchman, Becquerel, to investigate the properties of substances which glow in the dark, In the course of his experiments he found that uranium gives off radiations similar to x-rays. These experiments started the Curies on the path that led to the discovery of radium in 1898. This opened an entirely new field in atomic research.
In 1911 Sir Ernest Rutherford of the University of Manchester in England formulated a model of the atom which was a forerunner of our present conception. He described the atom as being made up of a very small but very heavy nucleus carrying positive electrical charges and around this nucleus the negative electrons are spaced in various configurations.
In 1913 Niels Bohr, the Danish physicist extended Rutherford's theory and advanced the idea that the electrons revolve about the nucleus of the atom, similar to the planets revolving around the sun.
Rutherford also suggested that if the nucleus of an atom could be hit hard enough to fracture it different kinds of atoms would be produced.
In 1919 he accomplished the first artificial transmutation. After this experiment his only regret was that he did not have a more powerful hammer or projectile with which to strike the atom. This was provided in 1931 when Dr. E. O. Lawrence of the University of California invented the cyclotron which can accelerate positively charged particles to speeds as high as 10,000 miles per second. In 1932 while the Frenchman, Joliot and his wife, Irene Curie, were bombarding atoms of Beryllium with particles from radioactive Polonium, they observed a strange effect.
This experiment was repeated by Sir James Chadwick who showed the effect was due to a new type of particle which had the mass of a hydrogen nucleus but carried no electric charge. He gave it the name "Neutron." The existence of the Neutron had been forecast by Rutherford 12 years before.
Three years later, in 1935, Professor Arthur Dempster of the University of Chicago, using a mass spectrometer detected a rare atom of uranium with atomic weight of 235. The more common uranium has a weight of 238 on the scale where oxygen is 16.
All radioactive materials disintegrate and in so doing give off energy with the loss of weight. Ordinary disintegration, such as that of radium, is a slow continuous process. In 1939, Hahn, Strassman, Meitner and Frisch discovered a new type of atomic disintegration which is a violent process and is started by bombarding the nucleus of the atom with slow moving neutrons. The most familiar substance which exhibits this type of fragmentation is U235. Once the process starts it accelerates and releases a tremendous amount of energy.
This very, very short history of atomic studies shows how the stage was set for the dramatic development which had its climax last week. While this work was the forerunner of the atomic bomb, how it was finally made is still a necessary secret. All we know is that by pooling our unrivalled scientific, educational and industrial facilities a spectacular result was produced. While the military value of atomic energy has been demonstrated Peacetime uses are still a matter for conjecture.
Many additional secrets of Nature will be discovered as time goes on, but we need have no fear because the non-aggressive people of the world will make sure they work for the good of Mankind and not for its destruction.
R - A - D - A - R
Radar is simply an abbreviation of the words "radio detection and ranging" which means finding the direction of an object and how far it is away. Its development depended on the measurement of a very high speed and a very short time.
Nearly a hundred years ago a Frenchman - Fizeau, measured the speed of light. He found it to be 186,000 miles per second or a distance equal to seven times around the earth.
In 1886 Heinrich Hertz demonstrated that what we call radio waves had the same speed as light and could be reflected in the same manner. Three years later Nikola Tesla stated in an article that "By the use of these waves we may produce an electrical effect from a sending station and determine the position of a moving object, such as a vessel at "sea."
In the year 1922 Dr. A. H. Taylor and his associate L. C. Young, while conducting some communication experiments at the Naval Research Laboratory near Washington noticed a steamer in the Potomac interfered with their signals. In 1930, as a result of these experiments, the Director of the Naval Research Laboratory submitted a report to the Navy Department titled "Radio - Echo Signals from Moving Objects."
The Army was also conducting experiments in the same field. In the late twenties Colonel William Blair of the Signal Corps urged the use of radio to replace the Army's sound locator. The Army and Navy pooled their information and since that time have worked in close cooperation.
Radio waves were first used to find the direction of the object, but in 1925 Drs. Breit and Tuve of the Carnegie Institution of Washington measured the distance to the radio sky reflecting ceiling. They sent out a series of short radio pulses and measured the time it took for them to go out and be reflected back to Earth. Knowing the speed it is possible to determine distance as well as direction.
This determination of a distance involves the accurate measurement of time in millionths of a second. Radio and light waves travel about 1,000 feet per millionth of a second. For instance if the object is ten miles away, approximately 50,000 feet, it takes 100 millionths of a second for the radio signal to go out and back. This time is measured by the use of a cathode ray tube, a standard piece of apparatus in most laboratories.
In 1940 when the Battle of Britain took place England's defensive chain of Radar stations, largely of their own development, enabled its small air force to always be on hand when the enemy arrived. In 1942 when the V-boats were sinking Allied shipping at the rate of 16,000 tons a day, Radar, carried by both airplanes and ships, helped turn the tide, and it was of equal value in the Pacific.
To date Radar and War have been closely linked but many prophecies have been made for peacetime applications. It has proved itself a very valuable aid to air and sea navigation in bad weather, night or fog. It will undoubtedly contribute to a more rapid development of television and other ultra short wave applications. We can only speculate on what other part it will have in future products.
The intensive development of Radar during the War and its successful operation would not have been possible if it had not been for our pre-war radio and electrical industries. We should also give full credit to the many scientists and thousands of radio amateurs who have contributed so much to the practical application of the marvelous device. The War has certainly taught us that ideas are just as important as things.
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