What role did math play in WWII

  • #1
Storm Butler
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Hello, i have a research paper to do on WWII and i thought it might be interesting to do one on the importance of math in WWII however the only thing that i can really thing of that they used it for (strictly math not math that went into the calculations for projectiles or the chem/physics that they used to develop new weapons) is cryptology and the whole enigma code cracking so does anyone have anymore suggestions? are there any good books or sources out there? and do you think that there is enough info to write a 5 page paper on this?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Evo
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Radar?
 
  • #3
ideasrule
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operational_Research" [Broken]
 
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  • #4
lisab
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The science (and math) behind cascading nuclear reactions was a big player.
 
  • #5
rootX
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counting ...
 
  • #6
Integral
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Ballistics.
 
  • #7
MotoH
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Counting how many Nazi's you killed!





. . . . Gratzi.
 
  • #8
turbo
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Google on Heddy Lamarr. The technology wasn't sufficiently advanced to be implemented until the 1950s, but that was pretty advanced stuff for the time. Hint: it involves making communications for radio-controlled torpedoes resistant to jamming.
 
  • #9
Kajahtava
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- Adolf Hitler sucked at maths
- Churchil sucket at maths
- Stalin sucket at maths
- Mussolini sucked at maths
- Isenhower sucked at maths

Now, all the people that opposed the entire war and expansion drift prominently:

- Russell excelled at maths
- Einstein excelled at maths
- Gödel excelled at maths

I wonder if this correlation implies some causation between being for instance bad at let's say.. statistics and adding of dead soldiers to your slate and being a totalitarian dictator who enjoys starting wars without any good justification that the odds of winning are so much above 50% that even when you win it pays off netto against all the resources you expended on getting there.
 
  • #10
turbo
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- Adolf Hitler sucked at maths
- Churchil sucket at maths
- Stalin sucket at maths
- Mussolini sucked at maths
- Isenhower sucked at maths

Now, all the people that opposed the entire war and expansion drift prominently:

- Russell excelled at maths
- Einstein excelled at maths
- Gödel excelled at maths

I wonder if this correlation implies some causation between being for instance bad at let's say.. statistics and adding of dead soldiers to your slate and being a totalitarian dictator who enjoys starting wars without any good justification that the odds of winning are so much above 50% that even when you win it pays off netto against all the resources you expended on getting there.
Thank you so much for the totally unhelpful post. If I ask a question here, please do not bother to "help" me with a reply.
 
  • #11
Office_Shredder
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On the other front of the war, the US cracking of the Japanese code resulted in the US de-coding Japanese transmissions faster than the Japanese could (this may be urban legend but the code was thoroughly destroyed before pearl harbor even)

Radar is also an excellent suggestion. Radar played a huge role in the Battle of Britain and the smaller RAF's ability to pinpoint their defenses against the Luftwaffe
 
  • #12
Storm Butler
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The science (and math) behind cascading nuclear reactions was a big player.

Do you mean like the effects it had at different distances or how the radiation spread with wind/ current effects or something else entirley?
 
  • #13
Storm Butler
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  • #14
Storm Butler
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buy technique i meant equation, sorry.
 
  • #15
turbo
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Re: nuclear reactions, bomb yields were a big theoretical question - thus the tests.
 
  • #16
MotoH
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The first weapon test must have been an extremely nerve racking time. not knowing exactly what would happen!
 
  • #17
Storm Butler
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I just googled hedy lamarr... she must be the best looking engineer out there :) very surprised to see such a beautiful woman inventing techniques for advance torpedoes and then acting on top of it.
 
  • #18
turbo
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I just googled hedy lamarr... she must be the best looking engineer out there :) very surprised to see such a beautiful woman inventing techniques for advance torpedoes and then acting on top of it.
Hot and smart, too!!
 
  • #19
With the calculations for artillery the method of "Time on target" was developed by the US shortly before WW2. It involves several different gun batteries synchronizing there fire so all the shells land at the same time.

Also it is more of a design note but the Germans had some scary accurate optical range finders in there tanks. Also again somewhat of a design thing but the fire control systems of the Iowa class battle ships were an impressive array of optical range finders, radar range finders, and electrical mechanical computers.
 
  • #20
russ_watters
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Do you mean like the effects it had at different distances or how the radiation spread with wind/ current effects or something else entirley?
That too, but I think lisab was referring to the modeling of the nuclear reactions/explosions themselves.
 
  • #21
lisab
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That too, but I think lisab was referring to the modeling of the nuclear reactions/explosions themselves.

Yes :smile:.
 
  • #22
Char. Limit
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Dang, I was about to suggest the Manhattan Project.

Until Star Trek came around, it was the biggest gathering of the intelliegentsia ever. And they had to work with calculating yields, whether a nuclear reaction would work or not (I have no idea what kind of equations they used, presumably fifteenth-order partially ordinary integral differential equations), and of course... how much of a "boom" it would make.

Very nerve-wracking indeed... but they pulled it off.

Math helped us beat the Japanese. Aforementioned was the use of RadAR by the British (It should be capitalized as such) to stop the Germans in the battle of Britain.
 
  • #23
Max Faust
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Perhaps more "computation" than "mathematics" per se... but did you ever wonder about how they managed to solve the logistical problems of industrial-scaled mass murder? An interesting factoid from WW2 is that the Holocaust would probably not have run as smoothly as it did if it wasn't for the systems developed by IBM, who continued to support and aid the Nazis with this ignoble undertaking until the very end.
 
  • #24
Garth
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The British recruited some of the best Oxford and Cambridge mathematicians such as Alan Turing to break the Nazi Enigma code at Bletchley Park.

Decoding the Nazi transmissions became a major factor in turning aroung the Battle of the Atlantic and many other WWII operations.

On May 9, the British destroyer HMS Bulldog captured U-110 and recovered a complete, intact Enigma Machine. Combined with a couple of other captures, this was a vital breakthrough for the Allied code-breaking efforts. The machine was taken to Bletchley Park, where it was used to help break the German codes. This, and the work of men like Flowers and Turing would give Britain the ability to read German naval signals for much of the remainder of the campaign, and, incidentally, provide the impetus for the development of the first programmable electronic device, the Colossus computer.

Garth
 
  • #25
Phrak
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"Ernie Pyle, the famous WW2 war correspondent, wrote that the British fight for their homes, the Germans fight for glory and the Americans fight for souvenirs."

I think that most useful application of mathematics in WWII was quite simple. One souvenir, two souvenirs, three souvenirs... Define useful.
 
  • #26
Dadface
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The logistics of running the war for example keeping populations and armies adequately fed.
 
  • #27
Andre
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How about the leap of designing many new features, some already mentioned here but the design of rocket and jet engines, hundreds of aircraft types, subsystems like hydraulics, control and steering devices especially need a lot of math.
 
  • #28
Gokul43201
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The first weapon test must have been an extremely nerve racking time. not knowing exactly what would happen!
Not sure about the first weapon test, but I've read something about the first test to confirm critical mass calculations. The test was to be performed by dropping a cylindrical-shaped sub-critical piece of uranium through another sub-critical chunk with a very carefully sized matching through-hole in it. As the cylinder fell through the hole, criticality would be reached briefly during this transit (if calculations were correct), and a rise in temperature and radiation would be measured. If the cylinder got stuck in the hole, Los Alamos would be blown off the map.

The machinists must have done a good job and the test was successful, but there were a number of very nervous physicists in the control room that day.
 

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