America has a lengthy history in science and technology, producing many significant personalities and advancements in the subject.
Around the time of the Age of Enlightenment (1685 to 1815), which was a period in Western philosophy marked by writers and thinkers who rejected the alleged superstitions of the past and instead chose to emphasize the intellectual, scientific, and cultural life that was centered on the 18th century, where reason was promoted as the primary source for legitimacy and authority. Philosophers of the Enlightenment envisioned a “republic of science” where knowledge would be freely shared and would better the lives of all citizens.
The objective to promote scientific inventiveness is reflected in the United States Constitution itself. By guaranteeing authors and inventors the exclusive right to their unique writings and discoveries for a set period of time, it empowers the US Congress to “advance the growth of science and useful arts.” This section served as the foundation for the U.S. patent and copyright regimes, which award monopolies to original artists and scientists for a set amount of time before releasing them to the general public and enhancing the public domain.
Image Via Study Abroad Life
Early American Science:
The United States was both relatively impoverished and remote from Europe in the early years of its history. In comparison to Europe’s well-established societies, institutes, and colleges, America’s scientific infrastructure at this point was still quite rudimentary.
Eight of the founding fathers of America were well-known scientists. Benjamin Franklin carried out a number of experiments that advanced our knowledge of electricity. Among other things, he established that lightning is a type of electricity, which was previously assumed but never demonstrated. Bifocal spectacles are among the comforts that Franklin also created. Franklin also invented the “Franklin Stove,” a mid-room furnace. Eight of the founding fathers of America were well-known scientists. Benjamin Franklin carried out a number of experiments that advanced our knowledge of electricity. Among other things, he established that lightning is a type of electricity, which was previously assumed but never demonstrated. Bifocal spectacles are among the comforts that Franklin also created. Franklin also invented the “Franklin Stove,” a mid-room furnace.
The United States acquired the Louisiana Territory during Jefferson’s two years in office (1801–1909), and Lewis and Clark explored the huge new territory. He helped establish the University of Virginia after leaving office and moved to his Virginia home, Monticello. Agriculturist Jefferson also introduced many varieties of rice, olive trees, and grasses to the New World. He emphasized the scientific component of the Lewis and Clark expedition (1804–06), which explored the Pacific Northwest and left behind comprehensive, systematic data on the region’s plants and animals.
Most American scientists of the late 18th century participated in the fight to obtain American independence and create a new nation, much like Franklin and Jefferson. These researchers included the natural historian Charles Willson Peale, the medical researcher Benjamin Rush, and the astronomer David Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse contributed to the planning of Philadelphia’s fortifications during the American Revolution and produced telescopes and navigational equipment for the American troops. Rittenhouse created the state of Pennsylvania’s road and canal infrastructure following the war. Later, he went back to researching the stars and planets, where he became well known across the globe. By advocating good hygiene and public health practises while serving as the United States Surgeon General, Benjamin Rush helped save many lives of soldiers during the American Revolution. Rush made Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Hospital a model of medical progress by introducing novel therapies, and following his time in the military, he founded the nation’s first free clinic.
Although Charles Willson Peale was also a natural historian, inventor, educator, and politician, he is best known as an artist. He founded the first significant museum in the country, the Peale Museum in Philadelphia, which housed the infant country’s sole collection of artefacts from North American natural history. Near West Point, New York, Peale discovered the remains of an old mastodon. He spent three months putting the skeleton together and exhibited it in his museum. An American custom of making science knowledge entertaining and accessible to the general people was established by the Peale Museum.
The curiosity of American political leaders also ensured that experts from other nations were welcomed with open arms. The British chemist Joseph Priestley, who was expelled from his country due to his dissident politics, was a noteworthy early immigrant. The first of thousands of gifted scientists attracted to the United States in quest of a free, artistic atmosphere was Priestley, who immigrated here in 1794.
To participate in the country’s explosive expansion, other scientists had immigrated to the United States. The telephone was created and patented by Alexander Graham Bell, who immigrated to Canada from Scotland in 1872. Charles Proteus Steinmetz, a German immigrant who joined the General Electric Company in 1889, created new alternating-current electrical systems. Vladimir Zworykin, a Russian immigrant who came to the United States in 1919 and brought with him knowledge of cathode ray tubes and x-rays, later received his first patent for an innovative television system. Nikola Tesla, a Serbian who immigrated to the United States in 1884, later applied the rotating magnetic field’s guiding principle to the creation of an alternating current induction motor and a polyphase system for the production, delivery, and use of electrical energy.
Up until the early 1900s, science research was concentrated in Europe, particularly in England and Germany. The tensions leading up to World War II from the 1920s onward caused sporadic but consistent scientific emigration, or “brain drain,” across Europe. Many of these emigrants were Jewish scientists who sought refuge in the United States because of dread of the effects of anti-Semitism, notably in Germany and Italy. In 1933, Albert Einstein was one of the first to do so. He encouraged and frequently encouraged the departure of a sizable portion of Germany’s once-preeminent theoretical physics community for the United States. The first nuclear chain reaction in the history of the planet was created by Enrico Fermi, an Italian who immigrated to the United States in 1938. Several other notable scientists, like as Niels Bohr, Victor Weisskopf, Otto Stern, and Eugene Wigner, also immigrated to the United States at the same time.
Such immigrants, who understood the potential dangers and applications of new technology, were responsible for a number of scientific and technological advances throughout the Atomic Age. For instance, the influential Manhattan Project was launched by German scientist Albert Einstein and his Hungarian colleague Leó Szilárd after they took the initiative. Many of the scientists who were important to the project were also immigrants from Europe, including German Nobel winner Hans Bethe and “father of the hydrogen bomb” Edward Teller, a Hungarian. In addition to the resources and facilities provided by the Allies, their scientific contributions helped the United States become an unstoppable scientific powerhouse throughout World War II.
In fact, Operation Alsos and its components of the Manhattan Project successfully gathered and assessed Axis military scientific research at the end of the war, particularly that of the German nuclear energy project, only to come to the conclusion that it lagged behind its American counterpart by years. This was true even though they were not intended to recruit European scientists.
When World War II came to a close, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States were all vying for the war’s gains by trying to profit from Nazi research. Operation Paperclip, carried out by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency, was launched by the Office of Strategic Services while President Harry S. Truman refused to give asylum to ideologically devoted Nazi party members. This initiative secretly provided whitewashed dossiers, biographies, and employment to intellectuals and technicians who were otherwise unsuitable. Since the end of the Nazi dictatorship in Project Overcast, ex-Nazi scientists were engaged by the U.S. military. However, starting in August 1945, Operation Paperclip took the risk to systematically assign German nuclear and aerospace research and scientists to military and civilian positions. Up until the program’s end in 1990, Operation Paperclip was reported to have hired around 1,600 such workers across a range of fields and professions.
During the initial stages of Operation Paperclip, the majority of these recruits were aeronautical engineers from the German V-2 combat rocket programme as well as specialists in synthetic fuels and aerospace medicine. Wernher Von Braun, the principal designer of the V-2 rocket programme and a contributor to the Aggregate rocket programme (the first rocket programme to reach space), was arguably the most significant of these. When Von Braun initially arrived in the US, his team was allocated to NASA, but they first worked on the US Air Force’s ICBM programme.
His work on the Redstone rocket and the successful launch of the Explorer 1 satellite in response to Sputnik 1 signalled the start of the American Space programme and, consequently, the Space Race. He is frequently referred to as “The Father of Rocket Science.” The Apollo 11 mission, which took place in 1969, featured the first crewed landing on the Moon thanks to Von Braun’s later construction of the Saturn V rocket for NASA in the middle to late 1960s.
The development of the United States has been significantly influenced by foreign technology infusions, particularly in the late nineteenth century. a supportive security environment for the United States that permitted relatively minimal defence spending. The growth of native manufacturing industries and the importation of foreign technologies were promoted by high trade barriers.
American applied Science:
Britain, France, and Germany were at the forefront of innovative concepts in science and mathematics during the 19th century. Although the US trailed behind in the creation of theory, it excelled in the application of theory to problem-solving, or applied science. This custom had developed out of need. Americans frequently had to come up with their own solutions because they were so removed from the centres of Western production and technology.
Americans produced a number of significant breakthroughs by fusing theoretical knowledge with “Yankee ingenuity.” The great American inventors include Robert Fulton, who created the steamboat, Samuel Morse, who created the telegraph, Eli Whitney, who created the cotton gin, Cyrus McCormick, who created the reaper, and Thomas Alva Edison, who is the most prolific of them all and is credited with more than a thousand inventions.
Although Edison wasn’t always the first to think of a scientific application, he frequently brought a concept to fruition. For instance, about 20 years before Edison, the British inventor Joseph Swan created an incandescent electric lamp in 1860. Swan’s bulbs, on the other hand, could only be used in a system where numerous lights were turned on or off at once. Edison’s lightbulbs, on the other hand, lasted significantly longer than Swan’s and could be turned on and off individually. Edison created electricity producing systems after making improvements to the lightbulb. His innovations brought electric lights into millions of households in less than 30 years.
The invention of the Wright brothers, Wilbur and Orville, is another significant instance of the application of scientific concepts to real-world applications. They got interested in the tales of German glider experiments in the 1890s and started looking into the fundamentals of flight on their own. The Wright brothers constructed and successfully piloted a number of gliders by fusing their mechanical and scientific expertise. The first heavier-than-air, mechanically powered aeroplane was then flown successfully on December 17, 1903.
The United States has historically and currently dominated applied science in part because of its enormous research and development budget, which in 2009 totaled $401.6 billion, more than double China’s budget of $154.1 billion and more than 25% higher than the European Union’s budget of $297.9 billion.
Telecom and Technology:
The United States has contributed significantly to major developments in telecommunications and technology over the past 80 years. For instance, AT&T’s Bell Laboratories was instrumental in starting the American technological revolution with a number of discoveries, such as the transistor, the first usable light-emitting diode (LED), the C programming language, and the Unix operating system. The personal computer business was largely founded by SRI International and Xerox PARC in Silicon Valley, while ARPA and NASA provided funding for the creation of the ARPANET and the Internet.
When Herman Hollerith, a young engineer, realised that the United States government needed a better way to perform its census, he set out to create electromechanical tabulators specifically for that use. The larger population, the data collection items, the headcount conducted by the Census Bureau, the scheduled publications, and the use of Hollerith’s electromechanical tabulators all contributed to a reduction in the processing time from eight years for the 1880 census to six years for the 1890 census.  The Tabulating Machine Company got its start thanks to that. International Business Machines had taken over as the firm name by the 1960s, and it dominated business computers.
By releasing the first comprehensive family of computers (the System/360), IBM completely changed the computing landscape. As a result, several of their rivals merged or went bankrupt, giving IBM an even stronger competitive advantage. The IBM 3614 Consumer Transaction Facility, a precursor to today’s automatic teller machines, and the floppy disc, both released in 1971 and 1973, respectively, are just a few of the company’s many innovations. The DynaTAC 8000x was the first portable mobile phone to be made available for purchase in 1983. Global mobile phone subscriptions increased from 1983 to 2014, reaching over seven billion, or one for each person on Earth.
The Space Age:
The Space Age has nearly coincided with the Atomic Age. Robert Goddard, an American, was one of the pioneering researchers in the field of rocket propulsion. Goddard experimented with using liquid oxygen and gasoline to launch rockets into the atmosphere in his modest laboratory in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1926, he successfully launched the world’s first liquid-fuel rocket, which ascended to a height of 12.5 metres. Goddard’s rockets reached modest altitudes of over two kilometres over the following ten years, and interest in rocketry grew in the United States, Britain, Germany, and the Soviet Union.
Both the American and Russian forces looked for renowned German scientists who could be claimed as trophies for their nation as the Allied forces advanced during World War II. Operation Paperclip, an American initiative to import German rocket technology, is notable in particular for the importation of German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun (who would later serve as the director of a NASA centre). As the first test extraction of a natural resource from another planet for human use, MOXIE created oxygen via solid oxide electrolysis from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide on April 20, 2021. The United States came in second place in the global innovation index in 2022.
Medicine and Healthcare:
Since World War II, Americans have dominated the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine, just as they did in physics and chemistry. The private sector has served as the centre of biomedical research in the US and has been crucial to this accomplishment.
As of 2000, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which receives funding from taxes, sponsored 36% of medical research in the United States, non-profit private groups like the Howard Hughes Medical Institute provided 7% of funding, and for-profit business provided 57%. However, by 2003, just 28% of medical research funding came from the NIH; investment from the commercial sector rose by 102% between 1994 and 2003.
In Bethesda, Maryland, there are 24 different institutes that make up the NIH. Knowledge that aids in the prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment of disease and disability is the aim of NIH research. At any given time, around 35,000 main investigators are supported in their work by NIH funds. In NIH laboratories, five Nobel Prize winners achieved their ground-breaking discoveries.
Numerous medical advances have been made possible because to NIH research. For instance, between 1971 and 1991, the mortality rate from heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, decreased by 41%. During the same time span, there was a 59 percent decline in the death rate from strokes. The death rate from cancer decreased by over 3% between 1991 and 1995, marking the first continuous decrease since national record-keeping began in the 1930s. And more than 70% of children who have cancer today are cured.
The NIH has contributed to the revolution in biomedical science brought about by molecular genetics and genomics research. Researchers were able to locate, recognise, and define the function of many genes in the human genome throughout the 1980s and 1990s, when they carried out the first human trials of gene therapy.
The progress of disease detection and treatment is also aided by research done by universities, hospitals, and businesses. For instance, the basic research on AIDS was financed by NIH, but many of the medications used to treat the condition came from the American pharmaceutical industry’s research facilities and are still being evaluated in research facilities around the nation.