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7 Technological Inventions During WW2 that Changed the World


T E C H N O L O G Y – W O R L D 


Rabab Rayan


World War II, also known as WW2, being an intercontinental war that involved more than 30 countries, lasted from 1939 to 1945 between the Allied Forces and the Axis Powers and resulted in 40,000,000 to 50,000,000 deaths, making it the bloodiest conflict and the biggest war in world history. WW2 also resulted in some of the most significant tech innovations in the 20th century, which later became a foundation and gave birth to more innovations, thus shaping the world into what it is today. The old saying — Necessity is the mother of invention — proved to be true in the bloody days of WW2.

Radar

Radar is undoubtedly one of the greatest innovations to have been created during WW2. It was developed by multiple countries in the 30s, and at the time of war, British and German forces used the piece of tech to inform allies about enemy positions. It rendered the concept of a surprise attack, which significantly extended the arena of modern warfare by enabling people to ‘see’ remotely.

Radar systems still remain a vital part of missile defence today, and display weather information and give accurate altitude readings in aviation departments. Radar technology has recently been used for vital sign monitoring and human activity monitoring, where the heartbeat and respiration rate is estimated by measuring the human body movements, caused by the ejection of blood into the great vessels and inhalation and exhalation of air into and out of the lungs using radar.

Penicillin

Penicillin was created in the early 1930s, years before WW2 started. Yet its mass production and use only occurred during WW2 when Penicillin was found to be adequate to combat various pathogens, including the bacteria that causes gangrene, which was a scourge of death for militaries for most of world history. It kept uncomplicated infections from becoming life-threatening illnesses. 

Many penicillin derivatives have been produced that inhibit more forms of bacteria than the initial life-saving drug. Antibiotics containing penicillin are used to treat a wide variety of infections caused by susceptible bacteria.

V2 Missiles

The missiles were known as “Vergeltungswaffe 2” in German and “Vengeance rockets” in common parlance. They were the world’s first long-range ballistic missiles. The V-2 ballistic missile was among the Nazi forces most advanced weapons. Missiles have since become a vital part of any modern military to deliver bombs at large distances and apply maximum damage on the enemy. 

Jet Engines

The first jet engine was tested in 1937, but the British government was uninterested and proceeded slowly on the topic. The Germans were the ones who really pushed the technology. Following the end of the war, the German jet aircraft and jet engines were extensively studied by the victorious allies and work was continued on early Soviet and U.S. jet fighters. It was beneficial to the Germans in overcoming Allied numerical dominance.  

Jet engines today power our modern-day aero planes, and some ships are also powered by jet engines.

Military Rations 

Rations for soldiers were carefully designed to provide with the maximum amount of nutrition and energy, while also offering variety and taste. Meeting these challenges involved first working in the laboratory and then in the kitchen. During WWII, the study of nutrition advanced dramatically. 

In the war, soldiers eat MREs or Meals Ready to Eat as a source of food and energy to survive and continue to fight without worrying about cooking food or eating spoiled meals.

Colossus Computer

Colossus was the world’s first large-scale electronic device, and it first ran in 1944 at Britain’s code-breaking headquarters at Bletchley Park. Colossus shortened the time it took to find out the Lorenz chi-wheel settings, allowing further messages to be deciphered and the whole code-breaking process to be sped up. The decrypted messages’ information is widely known to have shortened the war by several months, saving tens of thousands of lives. 

Computers have become part and parcel of modern life it has changed the lives of human beings as we know them. Since the time of WW2, computers have gone from occupying whole rooms to fitting in our pockets in the form of smartphones.

Atomic Bomb

“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

– J. Robert Oppenheimer

The atomic bomb, for better or worse, set the shape of the outcome. It was the most significant innovation of WW2 created by American physicists under the code name “The Manhattan Project”. On 6 August and 9 August of 1945, the United States detonated two nuclear bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively. Around 129,000 and 226,000 people were killed in the two bombings respectively; the vast majority were civilians. The research behind the bomb would ultimately lead to a slew of breakthroughs in nuclear technology. 

Today, nuclear power is a reliable, clean, and efficient source of producing electricity to meet the world’s needs and citizens. To sterilising medical devices from using radiotherapy to treat malignant tumours, teletherapy for oncological treatment, or radiological biology, radiopharmaceuticals are essential in the medical field today. All this would not have been possible today without the creation of the atomic bomb.

World War 2 had brought the necessity to develop new weapons and new technology to fight better. Governments around the world shared classified information and research with allies to beat the enemy. Despite the technological advancements, it had brought massive destruction and evil beyond comparison and made the world, even after the end of the war, a more dangerous place than before. The tech innovations have since been advanced severely and pack quite the punch compared to their predecessors making the risks of all-out destruction more likely. To say that World War II completely changed the world sounds like either a considerable underestimate or a trivialisation of the whole conflict; nevertheless, the simple truth is that the war did change everything, including ushering in a new technological era. World War II enabled the development of new commercial goods, innovations in medicine, and the establishment of new scientific investigation fields despite the cost to human life.

 


Rabab Rayan is a Business undergrad trying to excel academically but failing spectacularly.

 

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