From the Publisher
In 1915, with Europe in flames, Americans looked anxiously over their shoulders, wondering whether they, too, would be pulled into the "Great War" raging across an ever-narrower Atlantic Ocean. Conversations that year between Thomas Alva Edison and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels set in motion the forces that led to the establishment of an inventions factory modeled on those laboratories newly established within the most progressive part of American industry. Within a generation, the new Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) would produce the first operational American radar and sonar and accomplish path-breaking fundamental research on the transmission of high-frequency radio waves and the nature of the ionosphere. Science writer Ivan Amato explores the origin, development, and accomplishments of NRL over the last 75 years. He analyzes the personalities, institutional culture, and influences of what has become one of the preeminent research laboratories within the United States. Tracing the Laboratory from its small and often inauspicious origins to today's large, multidisciplinary research center, Amato sets in context many of the important research events and fronts of modern military science and technology. The author explores the role of the Laboratory within the Navy and U.S. science during the 1920s, Great Depression, and the "physicists' war" of 1941 to 1945. Amato subsequently looks at NRL during the Cold War and the birth of the space age, of which it was such a key player. He then presents overviews of contemporary research programs that will shape the substance of military capabilities well into the next century. Amato examines research fields ranging from oceanography to plasma physics to space technology in order to demonstrate how advanced science and technology have developed synergistically within the dual context of a military-sponsored, civilian-administered R&D laboratory.
Chapter 1 - The Navy's Invention Factory * Chapter 2 - The Laboratory That Almost Wasn't * Chapter 3 - First Steps * Chapter 4 - An Orphan Proves Itself * Chapter 5 - An Adolescent NRL at the Crossroads of History * Chapter 6 - NRL Goes to War * Chapter 7 - Harold Bowen and a Born Again NRL * Chapter 8 - Turning Vengeance Weapons into a Space Age * Chapter 9 - NRL, Nuclear Fallout, and the Cold War * Chapter 10 - From a Golden Era to Reality Checks * Chapter 11 - Pixels of a Very Big Picture * Chapter 12 - Pushing the Horizon