History of Modern American Science and Technology Session 3



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History of Modern American Science and Technology Session 3

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 Management

Atomic Bomb

  • Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) under Vannevar Bush, est. June 1941
  • Expansion of Atomic Bomb Project, December 1941
  • 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 bomb:
    • 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 overruled.
  • Hiroshima, August 6, and Nagasaki, August 9, 1945

Potsdam Conference, July-August 1945

  • 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 security
  • 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 policy?
    • There is evidence that Mao Zedong was inspired, in part, by Sputnik, to launch the Great Leap Forward movement in 1958.

Q&As

  • How could the inventors produce so many inventions?
  • “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.

Q&As

  • 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 administrators
    • Science and society need both types.

Q&A

  • 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 policy?
    • Go to www.energy.gov

Q&As

  • 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 cases
  • Didn’t GE go bankrupt?
    • No, it’s not GE, but GM.
  • How do American scientists view basic and applied research?
    • Most still value basic research more than applied research, but many scientists work to convert their discoveries into applications, especially in biomedical fields.

Q&As

  • 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

Q&As

  • Langdon Winner?
    • I know him and his work; he was the Hixon-Riggs 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

Q&As

  • What’s point of the article on stereotypes?
    • Your self-perception matters in the learning process
    • 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 papers
    • Two senior theses I supervised were published in scholarly journals

Q&As

  • Are there bureaucracy and frauds in American science?
    • Yes, but perhaps not as serious as in China recently.

Worksheets

  • You can print double-sided
  • You should staple everything you turn in for each session

Videos

  • Videos on Edison and Ford available from Hao Jun

Q&As

  • 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 2-page final exam.
    • More advanced students: try to do more of the readings and write longer term papers and final exams
    • 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.

Q&As

  • What should I do if I want to explore the subject further?
    • 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 development?
    • Actually today is a remarkable era of tech development; best period in 5000 years of Chinese history; leap-frog strategy; still many problems of course

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 system.


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