At the end of his administration, President Eisenhower, himself having risen to the highest rank in the US military, a "general of the Armies," warned about the dangers of the "military-industrial complex." A major portion of this complex is the government finance of research and development of new weapons of war. Yet this phenomenon is not new: governments began serious support of the scientific study of weapons of war in the late 18th century. The "father of the chemical revolution," Antoine Lavoisier, served France as the administrator of research on gunpowder. Indeed, France was the locus of the most sustained tradition of scientific involvement in the development of munitions and explosives up until the rise of the great superpowers of the 20th century, the US and the USSR. Dr. Mauskopf is examining the development of scientifically based munitions and explosives, concentrating on but not limiting himself to work in France. On the basis of his prior investigations, he has found useful an heuristic patterning involving a research focus of material (i.e. chemical research) versus a dynamic focus in physics research. There is also a pattern of research locus of laboratory versus field studies of the effectiveness of various munitions and explosives. The material focus has to do with such challenges as the production and purification of the constituents of the munitions, etc. The dynamic focus had more to do with physical aspects of explosion and to aspects including such parameters of explosion as temperature, pressure, rate of burn and work performed and the relation of the actual physical characteristics of the munitions to their mode of explosion. Laboratory versus field locus distinguishes between those investigations conducted in scaled down laboratory conditions from those carried out under conditions approximating military use. Dr. Mauskopf hypothesizes that there was a progressive amalgamation of all four components (chemical vs. physical, lab vs. field research) as research moved to the 20th century. The history of the scientific study of munitions and explosives has hardly been studied before. This study will not only rectify this inattention, but will also address issues pertinent to the historical relationship between science, technology and industry; the relationship between scientific research and military considerations; and the relationship of science to political and commercial incentives and patronage.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Ronald J. Overmann
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Duke University
United States
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