Article ID: CBB362906095

Introduction: Physics, Technology, and Technics during the Interwar Period (2018)


Historians, philosophers, and physicists portray the 1920s and 1930s as a period of major theoretical breakthrough in physics, quantum mechanics, which led to the expansion of physics into the core of the atom and the growth and strengthening of the discipline. These important developments in scientific inquiry into the micro-world and light have turned historical attention away from other significant historical processes and from other equally important causes for the expansion of physics. World War II, on the other hand, is often seen as the watershed moment when physics achieved new levels of social and technical engagement at a truly industrial scale. Historians have shown that military interests and government funding have shaped physics to unprecedented degree, and according to some, to the extent of discontinuity with earlier practices of research (Forman 1987; Kevles 1990; Kaiser 2002). In this vein, Stuart Leslie wrote, “Nothing in the prewar experience fully prepared academic scientists and their institutions for the scale and scope of a wartime mobilization that would transform the university, industry, and the federal government and their mutual interrelationships” (Leslie 1993, 6). While one can never be fully ready for novelties, the contributors to this issue show that developments in interwar physics did prepare participants for their cold war interactions with industry and government.

Includes Series Articles

Article Jaume Navarro (2018) How to Use a Fundamental Discovery in Physics: The Early Days of Electron Diffraction. Science in Context (pp. 351-379). unapi

Article Ulrich Koch (2019) The Uses of Trauma in Experiment: Traumatic Stress and the History of Experimental Neurosis, C. 1925–1975. Science in Context (pp. 327-351). unapi

Article Shaul Katzir (2018) The Shaping of Interwar Physics by Technology: The Case of Piezoelectricity. Science in Context (pp. 321-350). unapi

Article Robbie Duschinsky (2019) Attachment and the Archive: Barriers and Facilitators to the Use of Historical Sociology as Complementary Developmental Science. Science in Context (pp. 309-326). unapi

Article Kenji Ito (2018) “Electron Theory” and the Emergence of Atomic Physics in Japan. Science in Context (pp. 293-320). unapi

Article Hilde Norrgrén (2019) Hans Egede (1686–1758) and the Alchemical Tradition in Denmark-Norway. Science in Context (pp. 285-307). unapi

Article Richard Staley (2018) The Interwar Period as a Machine Age: Mechanics, the Machine, Mechanisms, and the Market in Discourse. Science in Context (pp. 263-292). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Eckert, Michael
Blai Pié i Valls
Patrick Aidan Heelan
Talbot, Chris
Greco, Pietro
D'Agostino, Salvo
Perspectives on Science
Studium: Tijdschrift voor Wetenschaps- en Universiteitgeschiedenis
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Physics in Perspective
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Guangxi Minzu Xueyuan Xuebao
Springer International Publishing
Springer International
Peter Lang
Oxford University Press
Quantum mechanics
Science and society
Philosophy of science
Einstein, Albert
Bohr, Niels Henrik David
Sommerfeld, Arnold Johannes Wilhelm
Planck, Max
Heisenberg, Werner
Nordheim, Lothar
Time Periods
20th century, early
20th century
21st century
20th century, late
19th century
Munich (Germany)
Munich. Universität

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