Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

America History between 1877-1990. Need something science related.

  1. Feb 23, 2010 #1
    So in my history class i am being asked to write an 5 page research paper on anything that has impacted American Society culturally, economocially, socially, etc.

    It can be on anything from baseball to jazz to the atomic bomb. It just has to have had a major impact on America between 1877 and 1990.

    I would like to do something physics related (since im planning on majoring in physics in college) but i dont know exactly how to specify my thesis. It cant just be on the evolution of physics over that time period because that's too broad, at the same time is has to have had a major impact on American Society.

    Any suggestions?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 23, 2010 #2
    Well, if it were me, I would probably like to research the impact of Electronic Computers (like Colossus or ENIAC). Maybe the development of the transistor.
  4. Feb 23, 2010 #3
    I am pretty sure there was this crazy German guy with whacky hair that did something with physics during that time period...
  5. Feb 23, 2010 #4
    yes, i have already thought about the manhatten project. The problem is, we literally JUST wrote a position paper on "was the dropping of the atomic bomb justified" which went into detail about how the development of nuclear warfare impacted america.

    I would do something on relativity but that didn't really impact american culture and society. I mean even today the average american has no idea what the theory of relativity really means.
  6. Feb 23, 2010 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The space program was huge, and it especially impacted American society.
  7. Feb 23, 2010 #6

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Electrical power
    Electric light
  8. Feb 23, 2010 #7
    If I'm not mistaken um0123, I believe Saladsamurai was referring to someone else, namely Albert Einstein.
  9. Feb 23, 2010 #8
    Bell Labs!
  10. Feb 23, 2010 #9
    Also another important detial to this essay is not just what happened, but how it came to be. So for example instead of just "was the dropping of the atomic bomb justified" i would go into detail answering "how was the decision made" and such.

    How would i include that into an essay on Bell Labs for example (which btw is a great idea, considering i have a teacher that worked there for 15 years and i can interview him).
  11. Feb 23, 2010 #10
    Well, what's the story you want to tell about Bell Labs? When you dive into its history, you'll find all sorts of factors at play for most every critical part of its history. You can get at the factors by asking "who, what, where, when, why, how?" Poke and prod at those factors and you should end up figuring out the angle you want to take for your spin on Bell Lab's history. By the way, that angle is your thesis.
  12. Feb 23, 2010 #11
    what about josiah willard gibbs & vector analysis. maybe he didn't have the same significance for american society as the manhattan project or the moon landing but he did a lot for math
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2010
  13. Feb 23, 2010 #12
    Sounds good, im definately putting bell labs on my list of considerations. Since the proposition isnt due till next friday i would love to get as many suggestions as you guys have. So keep 'em coming!

    Thank you.
  14. Feb 23, 2010 #13
    DARPA (along the same lines as bell labs)
    Kodak and developments in photography (chemistry and optics)
    Microsoft/ shift from mainframes to PCs
    scientific agencies/funding: NSF, NIH, NASA, NOAA, DOE, etc.
    Biology, but the Scopes trial
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2010
  15. Feb 23, 2010 #14
    or the role of nazis in the mass exodus from germany (& mostly to the US) in the 1930s & afterwards. IAS @ Princeton & the Courant Inst @ NYU, for example, were modelled after the Mathematics Institute @ Gottingen (iirc)
  16. Feb 23, 2010 #15
    The only science related topic I can think of, not already mentioned, is the "Current Wars" between Edison and Westinghouse. Probably simply because it is something I found particularly interesting myself.
  17. Feb 24, 2010 #16


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Or the role of Wernher von Braun and other "paperclips" in the Space Race after the war:

    Not saying they were evil monster (or noble angels, for that matter--the V2s were built with slave labour, that von Braun http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wernher_von_Braun#Slave_labour", don't use that as source reference if you pursue this line, but you can find plenty of histiography out there that'd be better) but a fascinating chapter from your nation's history (technological and otherwise).
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  18. Feb 24, 2010 #17

    Chi Meson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I second the suggestion of the LASER. Every disk player is itself proof, on so many levels, that what we know about the quantum model is correct.
  19. Feb 24, 2010 #18
    I've like that too. Edison and Tesla

    light bulb--1879

    or the radio war ---Marconi and Tesla

    soda pop

    Henry Ford
  20. Feb 24, 2010 #19
    Aside from his letter to Roosevelt, Einstein had little to do with the Manhattan Project.
  21. Feb 24, 2010 #20


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The Laser is one of Bell Labs inventions. You wouldn't believe what came out of Bell Labs.

    This link shows just some of the discoveries http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_Labs skip to Discoveries and developments

    But don't forget that since the lab was split the part that went to AT&T has a huge amount of invention also http://www.corp.att.com/attlabs/about/backgrounder.html go to An Unsurpassed Record of Achievement
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook