History is described as the change of events over time, but in history, there are constants, and one such constant is war. As said by Greg Bradenn, “War is not human nature. It is a habit”.[1]Throughout history, war has ingrained itself in the human mind. Conflict and battle, occurring in repetitive cycles throughout history as we know it, have caused considerable death and destruction. However, through all these unfortunate consequences, progression for humanity has taken place with incremental change.

An example of this is World War Two, undoubtedly the most destructive and deadliest war in history, and perhaps the most important war ever fought. Several technologies that we depend on today have evolved from crucial bases set by the demanding events of World War Two. Technology has proved to be advantageous in significant wars fought in history, time and time again. War has helped build enhanced weapons through the process of creative destruction. In turn, medical research flourished to counter the destruction and death raised upon us during battle.

As the world advances, so do its problems. Energy is one of the most vital elements of the world. There are many sources of energy, but these sources bring a major problem with them, climate change. Carbon emission rates are multiplying daily, creating a dire need for more sustainable and clean energy. Many sustainable energy sources are the answer to our problems, one of them being nuclear energy. Nuclear research achieved major breakthroughs during the 20th century.2 At the start of the century, nuclear energy as a source of power was considered a foolish thought. “It was a very poor and inefficient way of producing energy, and anyone who looked for a source of power in the transformation of the atom was talking moonshine.” [2] [3]

 Today, there are an estimated 440 nuclear power plants globally, and nuclear energy counts towards 10% of the world’s electricity.[4] It’s fair to say the world has advanced by leaps and bounds, and World War Two played a vital role in the advancement of nuclear research, which reached its peak in the form of the atom bomb.

There is no greater danger to humanity than itself, and one of the greatest threats to mankind is nuclear warfare. August 6 and August 9, 1945, were the days when two atom bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.[5] With an estimated 200,000 casualties, the atomic bombings were one of the most ruthless and catastrophic events in history.[6]

These bombings were a show of power from the Allies, as this was the first time a weapon of mass destruction was used on such a large scale. One atomic bomb was equivalent to hundreds of previously used bombs, and without uncertainty, the use of these atomic bombs completely revolutionized warfare.[7] In a memorandum to the Secretary of War, United States, it is mentioned, Today, there are an estimated 13,080 nuclear weapons in this world, and if the very first nuclear attack caused that much destruction, it’s not a far-fetched idea that a nuclear war could spell the end of the world. [8]

Nazi Germany was renowned for its advanced technology, and when World War Two broke out in 1939, the Allies feared that Germany had been working on a weapon using atomic technology since the 1930s.[9] The apprehension of this development helped initialize ‘The Manhattan Project’, which was the codename for a United States government research project to build a fully functional atomic weapon.[10]

The world’s leading scientific minds were part of this project, and countless years of research were utilized to make this project successful. Canada played a vital role in the Manhattan Project, as many of the resources, such as uranium ores, were exported from Canadian mines located in the Northwestern Territories and northern Saskatchewan.[11]

The Manhattan Project created an overwhelming demand for resources such as uranium ores, which greatly impacted the early expansion of Canada’s mining industry.[12] Even now, Canada is the world’s second-largest producer of uranium, accounting for about 13% of total world production.[13] Not only this, but the Montreal Laboratory in Canada further supported the research of atomic bombs by producing prototypes for one of the first nuclear reactors.[14]

All of these factors gave Canada significant nuclear capabilities to reject nuclear weapons after the end of World War Two. In 1965, the Canadian government decided that all exports of uranium and all other nuclear materials would be for peaceful purposes only.[15] This policy was further reinforced in 1970 when Canada signed the United Nations Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.[16] This was a very important step in the right direction as this promoted nuclear research for more peaceful technologies such as nuclear reactors, energy sources, and nuclear propulsion, all of which are vital parts of our society today.

Throughout history, there have been many remarkable inventions and discoveries that have revolutionized the world and one such invention is computers. Computers have completely changed how our world functions and they have become an integral part of society. The world has reached a point where it’s difficult even to imagine living a day without computers. Companies have begun to develop technologies like artificial intelligence, robots, and autonomous vehicles, which were considered science fiction just a few decades ago. As computer technologies advance every day, there’s no doubt that computers are the future of humanity.

Even though computers have a vast history, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the first mechanical computers were created.[17] The first computers were completely different from the computers we are familiar with today. These early computers utilized vacuum tubes to function, which resulted in them occupying large amounts of space.[18] It wasn’t until World War Two and the late 20th century that computers began to transition into the computers of today.

Computers were one of the many technologies that improved due to the events of World War 2. Some of the computers that played a vital role in the war were the Enigma machine, Turing’s Bombe, the Colossus, and Mark 1.[19] The Enigma machine is one of the most prominent parts of World War Two history and was used to create codes for top-secret Nazi messages. The breaking of the enigma code was instrumental towards the victory of the Allies.

Many operations were focused on acquiring the enigma machines, an example being the Raid of Dieppe, where the attack was used as a distraction to acquire one of these machines.[20] Breaking this code was considered a top priority, and machines such as Turing’s Bombe and the Colossus were developed to break the Enigma Code. [21]

The Turing’s Bombe, named after the mathematician Alan Turing, would prove to be vital towards cracking this code.[22] Turings and a group of codebreakers were assigned to break these German codes and as early as 1943, Turing’s machines were cracking a staggering total of 84,000 Enigma messages each month. [23]The Turing’s Bombe proved to be momentous during the Battle of Atlantic as the machine enabled the Allies to predict U-Boat movements and make it possible for convoys containing resources to reach Britain.[24] In an article by BBC, it is mentioned,

“Some historians estimate that this code-breaking operation, especially the breaking of U-boat Enigma, shortened the war in Europe by as many as two to four years.” [25]

Aside from these code machines, other types of computers were also developed during the war. In the last stages of the war, the United States would develop an electro-mechanical computer named Mark 1.[26] This would be one of the first electronic computers which would pave the way for extensive computer research in the future. The calculations done on these computers proved to be vital in the war. The first program run on the Mark 1 was comparing the efficiency of implosion and gun mechanisms to trigger the first atomic bombs, resulting in the successful bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. [27]

World War Two was completely different from the wars fought in the past, and aerial warfare would be a crucial component in the war. Air battles or dogfights were recurrent during the war, and air forces such as the German Luftwaffe and British Royal Air Forces proved to be a vital part of the war. This war also led to the founding of the Canadian Royal Air Force, which would become an integral part of the Canadian Armed Forces.

The Canadian Royal Air Force was a critical asset for the allies and participated in many significant battles in World War Two, such as the Battle of Britain, the Raid of Dieppe, and many more bomber, transport, and reconnaissance missions.[28] The planes in World War Two were much more advanced than in World War One. These advanced airplanes were faster, more accurate, and could use different weapons such as bombs and missiles. Throughout the war, the technology used in these planes advanced rapidly, and by the end of the war, German scientists had developed the first jet planes and rockets. The Messerschmitt Me 262, deployed in 1944, was the first operational jet fighter.[29]

This breakthrough would prove instrumental in the future, making jet propulsion a crucial part of our world. Aside from the first jet fighter, the Germans also created the first rocket. The V2 rocket was the world’s first long-range missile and would usher in the start of a new age of technology and warfare.[30] The V2 rocket was the first step towards space as Wernher von Braun, the developer of this rocket, would join NASA after the end of the war and would prove to be a leading part of the Apollo mission.[31] The V2 rocket led to the venture into space and started a space race that would prove vital towards our future.

When discussing World War 2 and air warfare technology, radar technology is one of the preeminent technologies. The radar system developed during World War Two used radio waves to determine the location of enemy airplanes. The radars proved invaluable during the air battles such as the Battle of Britain, as they gave the Allies the ability to locate and counter-attack enemy airplanes. Canada played a vital role in the creation of the first radar systems. During the early years of the war, Britain essentially passed all microwave radar development over to Canada, and Canadian scientists developed the Plan Position Indicator, which is still in use today.[32]

Throughout the war, Canada mass-produced radars and was the primary source of radar development. Canada provided the allies with over 9,000 radars, and Canadian scientists developed over 32 different types of radar systems for various military purposes, helping the Allies win the war. [33]Today, radar technology is the main component of the microwave oven.[34] This technology marked the beginning of Canada’s electrical industry, which is a primary contributor to Canada’s economy and export.

In our world, mass production plays an essential role. Product demand has increased at a rate that has made mass production a necessity. Mass production was introduced during the economic boom in the 1920s. This mass production in the 1920s had adverse effects leading to the Great Depression. World War Two allowed companies to mass-produce once again. The events of World War Two set extreme demands over various economic sectors, and mass production once again became a necessity.

Throughout the war, items such as ammunition, airplane materials, radar systems, medicine etc, were being produced at a rate never seen before. During this period, automation had begun replacing manual labor resulting in cheaper and more efficient production. In particular, the development of new materials such as plastic made cost-prohibitive appliances affordable for middle-class consumers.[35] For instance, ‘Radios fell from around $90 to just $10 in the 1930s as plastic replaced wood and steel components.’[36] War also prompted the formation of various industries for various countries, which had lasting effects on many economies. Canadian industries, such as the mining, electrical, and other industrial sectors, benefited greatly from the war and created a better economy for Canada in the coming decades.

War and death go hand in hand, and while thinking of war technologies, the things that come to mind are weapons, bombs, and technologies used to cause the most harm. Something that fails to be acknowledged is that medicine plays an even significant role during wars. Wars cause death and destruction, but this promotes research for counter-destructive ideas. The field of medicine advanced considerably during World War Two. From plastic surgery to prosthetic limbs, World War Two saw the creation of many technologies to aid casualties.

During World War Two, penicillin was one of the most significant medical discoveries. Penicillin or ‘the miracle drug’ was the first antibiotic and completely changed the future of medicine.[37] Infections have always been a precarious part of the war, and throughout history, infections have killed more soldiers at war than battle injuries.[38] During World War One, more than 30,000 deaths, more than half of the non-combat-related deaths, were caused by diseases and infection.[39] The discovery of penicillin decreased the death rate from bacterial infections in soldiers from 18% to 1%.[40] There is no doubt that penicillin is one of the most meaningful discoveries in human history and would prove invaluable to the future of medicine.

During World War Two, even though medicine saved countless lives, many lives were also lost due to medicinal warfare. In the 1940s, Nazi troops were supplied with methamphetamine called Pervitin, while American and British soldiers stayed alert with the help of the amphetamine Benzedrine.[41] These performance-enhancing drugs transformed the soldiers into beasts and enabled them to go entire days without rest. Historians believe that performance-enhancing drugs have been part of warfare since organized combat started. From wine and Greeks to Vikings and toxins and alcohol and tobacco in World War One, drugs have been a substantial part of the history of warfare.[42]

Even today, drugs are a significant part of our world; millions of people all around the globe get addicted to drugs, and drugs have ruined countless lives. These drugs proved to be a valuable part of the war as they enabled soldiers to keep going in punishing conditions and reduced the horrific and devitalizing effects of shell shock and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).[43] Records from the British War Office estimate that about 35 million Pervitin tablets were delivered to 3 million German troops during the three months of the Battle of Britain.[44] At the time, the effects of drugs were not understood, and at the end of the war, many soldiers had become addicted to these drugs and couldn’t function properly. After the end of the war, the side effects of drugs had to be learned the hard way in the following years.

There have been many reasons for wars in the past, but regardless of the motive, the after effect has always been death and destruction. Wars are simply humans fighting against other humans, and the result always remains the same, loss of human life. The consensus is that wars bring devastation for everyone, and that is certainly true, but as Henry Ford said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” [45]This quote proves true for the circumstances of conflict as well. Humanity has learned from its mistakes during World War Two and has made efforts to stop a situation like this from happening again. For instance, the United Nations was formed to prevent conflict between nations and prevent a situation like World War Two from taking place again. Every time a war happens, humanity increases its knowledge, including technological advancement. World War One saw the introduction of tanks and planes into warfare for the first time, and by the end of the war, the technologies had advanced much faster than otherwise possible in normal circumstances.

The same goes for World War Two as well, as the circumstances of the war forced the advancement of many technologies. War creates a race between the opposing sides and every nation tries its absolute best to appear on top. During war, technological advancement could be the difference between life and death. Is that to say, wars are necessary for advancement? No, definitely not. The technologies developed during the war would have been discovered eventually. It might have taken longer but is faster development of technology enough to warrant the vast death and destruction caused by war? To conclude, wars have always been a horrible event at any point in human history, but conflict is an integral element of our society. Conflict is always going to exist in the world, but the importance lies in learning from our mistakes and doing our absolute best not to repeat them.


Alston, Philip Sawford and Katharine. “How Has War in the Air Changed over Time?” Imperial War Museums. Accessed January 15, 2022. https://www.iwm.org.uk/learning/resources/how-has-war-in-the-air-changed-over-time.

“The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” AtomicArchive. Accessed January 15, 2022. https://www.atomicarchive.com/resources/documents/med/med_chp10.html.

Bradford, Alina. “Penicillin: Discovery, Benefits and Resistance.” LiveScience. Purch, May 30, 2019. https://www.livescience.com/65598-penicillin.html.

Canada, National Research Council. “Government of Canada.” National Research Council Canada. Government of Canada, March 13, 2019. https://nrc.canada.ca/en/corporate/history/1916-1945.

Canada, Natural Resources. “Government of Canada.” Natural Resources Canada. Government of Canada, September 23, 2020. https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/energy-sources-distribution/uranium-nuclear-energy/uranium-canada/about-uranium/7695.

Canada, Veterans Affairs. “Science and Technology in the Second World War.” Historical Sheet – Second World War – History – Veterans Affairs Canada, November 27, 2017. https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/classroom/fact-sheets/science.

Copeland, Prof Jack. “Alan Turing: The Codebreaker Who Saved ‘Millions of Lives’.” BBC News. BBC, June 19, 2012. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-18419691.

History.com Editors. “Manhattan Project.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, July 26, 2017. https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/the-manhattan-project.

“How Did Mass Production and Mass Consumption Take off after World War II?” Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations. Accessed January 15, 2022. https://world101.cfr.org/historical-context/global-era/how-did-mass-production-and-mass-consumption-take-after-world-war-ii.

Malloryk. “The Scientific and Technological Advances of World War II: The National WWII Museum: New Orleans.” The National WWII Museum | New Orleans. The National World War II Museum, July 31, 2020. https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/scientific-and-technological-advances-world-war-ii.

“Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a Schwalbe (Swallow).” Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a Schwalbe (Swallow) | National Air and Space Museum. Accessed January 15, 2022. https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/messerschmitt-me-262-a-1a-schwalbe-swallow/nasm_A19600328000.

Museum, Canadian War. “The Royal Canadian Air Force (1939-1945).” WarMuseum.ca . Accessed January 15, 2022. https://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/chrono/1931rcaf_e.html.

Published by M. Szmigiera, and Aug 31. “Number of Nuclear Warheads Worldwide as of January 2021.” Statista, August 31, 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/264435/number-of-nuclear-warheads-worldwide/.

“Raid on Dieppe Masked Secret Mission to Steal Nazis’ Enigma Machine.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, May 9, 2021. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/09/raid-on-dieppe-masked-secret-mission-to-steal-nazis-enigma-machine.

Rhodes, Richard. “Moonshine.” Essay. In The Making of the Atomic Bomb, 27. London: Simon & Schuster, 2012.

Safety Commission, Canadian Nuclear. “Canada’s Historical Role in Developing Nuclear Weapons.” Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, February 3, 2014. https://nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/resources/fact-sheets/Canadas-contribution-to-nuclear-weapons-development.cfm.

“Sci-Tech Tuesday: There Were Computers in WWII.” The National WWII Museum Blog, January 11, 2017. http://www.nww2m.com/2016/02/sci-tech-tuesday-there-were-computers-in-wwii/.

Teitel, Amy Shira. “Wernher Von Braun: History’s Most Controversial Figure?” Opinions | Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera, May 3, 2013. https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2013/5/3/wernher-von-braun-historys-most-controversial-figure/.

Thorne, Stephen J. “Performance Enhancers and War Go Hand in Hand.” Legion Magazine, October 2, 2020. https://legionmagazine.com/en/2018/06/performance-enhancers-and-war-go-hand-in-hand/. 

Weisberger, Mindy. “Nazis Dosed Soldiers with Performance-Boosting ‘Superdrug’.” LiveScience. Purch, June 25, 2019. https://www.livescience.com/65788-world-war-ii-nazis-methamphetamines.html.

Williamson, Timothy. “History of Computers: A Brief Timeline.” LiveScience. Purch, December 1, 2021. https://www.livescience.com/20718-computer-history.html.

World Nuclear Association. “Plans For New Reactors Worldwide.” World Nuclear Association. Accessed January 15, 2022. http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/plans-for-new-reactors-worldwide.aspx.

[1]  Greg Brandenn, n.d., accessed January 15, 2022.

[2] Richard Rhodes, “Moonshine,” in The Making of the Atomic Bomb (London: Simon & Schuster, 2012), p. 27.

[3] Ibid.

[4] World Nuclear Association, “Plans For New Reactors Worldwide,” World Nuclear Association, accessed January 15, 2022, http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/plans-for-new-reactors-worldwide.aspx.

[5] “The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Atomic Archive, accessed January 15, 2022, https://www.atomicarchive.com/resources/documents/med/med_chp10.html.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Record Group 77, Records of the Army Corps of Engineers (hereinafter RG 77), Manhattan Engineering District (MED), Harrison-Bundy Files (H-B Files), folder 69

[8] Published by M. Szmigiera and Aug 31, “Number of Nuclear Warheads Worldwide as of January 2021,” Statista, August 31, 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/264435/number-of-nuclear-warheads-worldwide/.

[9] History.com Editors, “Manhattan Project,” History.com (A&E Television Networks, July 26, 2017), https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/the-manhattan-project.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, “Canada’s Historical Role in Developing Nuclear Weapons,” Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, February 3, 2014, https://nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/resources/fact-sheets/Canadas-contribution-to-nuclear-weapons-development.cfm.

[12] Ibid.

[13]  Natural Resources Canada, “Government of Canada,” Natural Resources Canada (Government of Canada, September 23, 2020), https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/energy-sources-distribution/uranium-nuclear-energy/uranium-canada/about-uranium/7695.

[14]  Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, “Canada’s Historical Role in Developing Nuclear Weapons,” Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, February 3, 2014, https://nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/resources/fact-sheets/Canadas-contribution-to-nuclear-weapons-development.cfm. 

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Timothy Williamson, “History of Computers: A Brief Timeline,” LiveScience (Purch, December 1, 2021), https://www.livescience.com/20718-computer-history.html.

[18] Ibid.

[19] “Sci-Tech Tuesday: There Were Computers in WWII,” The National WWII Museum Blog, January 11, 2017, http://www.nww2m.com/2016/02/sci-tech-tuesday-there-were-computers-in-wwii/.

[20] “Raid on Dieppe Masked Secret Mission to Steal Nazis’ Enigma Machine,” The Guardian (Guardian News and Media, May 9, 2021), https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/09/raid-on-dieppe-masked-secret-mission-to-steal-nazis-enigma-machine.

[21] Prof Jack Copeland, “Alan Turing: The Codebreaker Who Saved ‘Millions of Lives’,” BBC News (BBC, June 19, 2012), https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-18419691.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26]  “Sci-Tech Tuesday: There Were Computers in WWII,” The National WWII Museum Blog, January 11, 2017, http://www.nww2m.com/2016/02/sci-tech-tuesday-there-were-computers-in-wwii/.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Canadian War Museum, “The Royal Canadian Air Force (1939-1945),” WarMuseum.ca , accessed January 15, 2022, https://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/chrono/1931rcaf_e.html.

[29] “Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a Schwalbe (Swallow),” Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a Schwalbe (Swallow) | National Air and Space Museum, accessed January 15, 2022, https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/messerschmitt-me-262-a-1a-schwalbe-swallow/nasm_A19600328000.

[30] Philip Sawford and Katharine Alston, “How Has War in the Air Changed over Time?,” Imperial War Museums, accessed January 15, 2022, https://www.iwm.org.uk/learning/resources/how-has-war-in-the-air-changed-over-time.

[31] Amy Shira Teitel, “Wernher Von Braun: History’s Most Controversial Figure?,” Opinions | Al Jazeera (Al Jazeera, May 3, 2013), https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2013/5/3/wernher-von-braun-historys-most-controversial-figure/.

[32] Veterans Affairs Canada, “Science and Technology in the Second World War,” Historical Sheet – Second World War – History – Veterans Affairs Canada, November 27, 2017, https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/classroom/fact-sheets/science.

[33] National Research Council Canada, “Government of Canada,” National Research Council Canada (Government of Canada, March 13, 2019), https://nrc.canada.ca/en/corporate/history/1916-1945.

[34] Ibid.

[35] “How Did Mass Production and Mass Consumption Take off after World War II?,” Council on Foreign Relations (Council on Foreign Relations), accessed January 15, 2022, https://world101.cfr.org/historical-context/global-era/how-did-mass-production-and-mass-consumption-take-after-world-war-ii.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Alina Bradford, “Penicillin: Discovery, Benefits and Resistance,” LiveScience (Purch, May 30, 2019), https://www.livescience.com/65598-penicillin.html.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Mindy Weisberger, “Nazis Dosed Soldiers with Performance-Boosting ‘Superdrug’,” LiveScience (Purch, June 25, 2019), https://www.livescience.com/65788-world-war-ii-nazis-methamphetamines.html.

[42] Stephen J. Thorne, “Performance Enhancers and War Go Hand in Hand,” Legion Magazine, October 2, 2020, https://legionmagazine.com/en/2018/06/performance-enhancers-and-war-go-hand-in-hand/.

[43]  Mindy Weisberger, “Nazis Dosed Soldiers with Performance-Boosting ‘Superdrug’,” LiveScience (Purch, June 25, 2019), https://www.livescience.com/65788-world-war-ii-nazis-methamphetamines.html.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Henry Ford, n.d., accessed January 15, 2022.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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