Vol. 5 No. 2 (2021)
Historical Articles

The Revolution in Science in America, 1900-1950

Jack Cohen
Chemistry Department, Ben Gurion University, Be’er Sheva, Israel

Published 2021-09-09


  • History of science,
  • American science,
  • European science,
  • Nobel prizes,
  • Basic research

How to Cite

Cohen, J. (2021). The Revolution in Science in America, 1900-1950. Substantia, 5(2), 85 - 95. https://doi.org/10.36253/Substantia-1256


The US lagged behind the European powers, Germany, Britain and France, in scientific research and development at the beginning of the 20th century. Why this occurred and how Germany and Britain supported their flourishing scientific research cultures are discussed. The first serious expansion in basic scientific research in the US occurred with the influx of European Jewish scientists fleeing Nazism in the 1930’s. They specifically brought with them knowledge of atomic physics. The influence of Vannevar Bush, who was Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War Two proved crucial for the expansion of civilian research and development after the War, supported by the Federal Government. Also after the War, Operation Paperclip brought German scientists to the US and they had significant influence on developments in aeronautics, rocketry and space exploration.


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