World War 2 is the kind of event that nobody can condone and the struggle for political power and territory at that time brought millions of innocent lives to an abrupt end. However, in the struggle for dominance, both sides were forced to develop new technology that would allow them to outsmart, outplay and outgun their adversaries. As a result, the WW2 period was extremely lucrative in terms of inventions, some of which you still utilize today. Let’s find out more about what World War 2 brought us in addition to slaughter and a new geopolitical map of the old continent.
Originally, the discovery of the capabilities of the Penicillium Notatum mold on killing bacteria was made in 1869 by Ernest Duchesne and Sir Alexander Fleming made it popular later or in 1928 with his studies on the matter. However, it was not until 1939 when Dr. Howard Florey’s research was able to prove the effectiveness of penicillin without a shadow of a doubt and with the aid of Andrew J. Moyer he developed the most powerful antibacterial substance in the world. Needless to say, with all the wounded soldiers dying from simple infections, it was about time.
If you own a car, then you probably have a few motor oil and gasoline cans in your garage/trunk. However, the cans you utilize to transport fuel did not always look like that. In fact, before the Germans perfected the design by strengthening the structure with the cross shape, maximizing the contents of the can and adding the innovative handles that permitted soldiers to carry 2 of them in each hand, fuel containers used to be impractical and rudimentary. Of course, the design was quickly reverse engineered by the allies.
3. The pressurized cabin
You have the US to thank for this invention that practically revolutionized air transportation. It is necessary to point out that in the absence of similar pressure/temperature/oxygen condition, the pilot of the aircraft would not be able to fly at high altitudes. However, the solution utilized prior to pressurize cabins comprised of giving the pilot an oxygen mask, which needless to say, failed numerous times.
4. Radio navigation
Before the invention of the Gee-H, Oboe and GEE neither of the forces was able to accurately direct the aircrafts in effective blind bombing runs. In addition, although flying these huge bombing ships was always incredibly difficult, landing them safely was even harder. The successor of the original GEE, LORAN was used for commercial aircraft navigation until not long ago when the GPS took over. However, there are voices that suggest LORAN should be reintroduced on commercial and military aircraft as a failsafe for potential GPS failures.
While the original plan for radio waves was to create a device that could concentrate them into powerful blasts (the presumed death ray machine), things took a different turn for this technology. The basis of the radio wave tech can be found back in 1886, but an actual demonstration of a working RADAR system capable of bouncing the radio signal off objects in order to determine their position was made much later on, in 1935 by Arnold F Wilkins.
6. Synthetic rubber and synthetic oil
While synthetic oil was created by the German scientists in order to account for the extreme shortage of its natural counterpart, synthetic rubber was invented in the US shortly after. It is necessary to mention that the polyethylene oils were utilized in powering the famous Luftwaffe air force throughout the entire World War 2. Synthetic rubber on the other hand was needed by the Allied Forces because the Axis controlled the vast majority of natural rubber suppliers by the American scientist Waldo Semon.
7. The V-2 rocket
While the original V-1 rocket was an extremely clumsy and inaccurate weapon that was easily countered by the Allies, the V-2 version is considered one of the most deadliest ballistic missiles of all times. However, the technological principles behind the V-2 were also used in launching the very first satellites on the orbit, namely the R7 and the Mercury Redstone.
8. The jet engine
Ironically, the British scientist Sir Frank Whittle finalized the functioning prototype for jet engines long before the Germans, but the government showed limited interest in the invention and awarded him very low funds. This is the reason why the German army that poured massive funding and manpower into the development of this technology was able to reap the benefits sooner. The Messerschmitt ME 262 (fighter jet) and the Arado Ar 234 (bomber) were among the most feared weapons of the Axis, particularly the former one which was allegedly able to gun down 5 allied planes on average before being destroyed. The principle behind the original jet engines is still used for commercial flights nowadays.
9. Nuclear power
When you think of nuclear power, the first thing that springs to mind is that it is a source of energy. However, nuclear power plants that we utilize to obtain electricity nowadays originated from the bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, namely the Fat Man and Little Boy. Although in theory the scientists of both sides were aware of the potential of the atom, the US managed to succeed in creating a weapon of mass destruction first through the Manhattan project. The debate on whether or not the world would be a better place without atomic power can go on forever, but the truth is that not only would we not benefit from this cheap and clean electrical source, but it is probable that WW2 would have lasted much longer and its end could differ radically.
10. The original computer
Two coding and decoding machines stand at the foundation of the modern day computer, namely the Enigma and the Lorentz machines. The role of these gadgets was to encode and respectively decode the traffic, which comprised mainly of communications between the German high command and the air, ground and naval forces dispatched. It is necessary to point out that while Enigma was based on a brilliant encryption system, there are more similarities between the Lorentz machines and computers nowadays.