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Topic: War is the mother of invention
War is the mother of invention
Does war promote technological innovation? The answer seems obvious. The Second World War, in particular, fostered all kinds of new technology ranging from the anti-tank grenade launcher (‘bazooka’) and DDT to the atomic bomb itself. It has even been suggested that technological breakthroughs such as the Haber-Bosch process (important for explosives production) can cause wars to happen. In reality, things are more complicated. Wars have acted as hothouses for inventions that already existed but were not completely industrialised. The anti-tank grenade, for instance, had been introduced before the Second World War, but no effective way of delivering it to an enemy tank had been developed. In the rush to create war-winning technologies many mistakes are made, but the outcome is the development of technologies which have shaped the modern world. This topic poses the question ‘Is war the mother of invention or is invention the mother of war?’ before examining whether or not invention and war go hand in hand.
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Topic section: Is war the mother of invention?
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Some inventions, such as the bouncing bomb or napalm, are genuine wartime inventions, but many military breakthroughs, including tanks and radar, were already being developed before war broke out. Is war the mother of invention or a hothouse for innovations?  > more

Topic section: Is invention the mother of war?
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Can inventions persuade countries to embark on a war? Did the Haber-Bosch process for synthetic ammonia trigger the First World War? Many technologies have been developed with war in mind, but how far have these inventions influenced the war planners?  > more

Topic section: Do inventions and war go hand-in-hand?
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Could wars be connected with economic cycles? It has been argued that the development of new technologies is associated with long economic waves. Can the outbreak of wars be connected to these spurts of innovation?  > more
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