Technological Developments Review for AP World History
Review questions for this study guide can be found at:
World War Firsts
World War I was the first conflict in which several new types of technology were used for the first time. Airplanes were used in combat. Dirigibles, tanks, more sophisticated weaponry, and poison gas also made their debut during the first world war. Radio technology was used during World War I for communication purposes. After the war, radio was extended to commercial and private use. In 1920, the first commercial radio broadcast was aired in Philadelphia. By 1930, millions of U.S. citizens owned radios, which they used to listen to news, sportscasts, and serials (soap operas). Government control of the airwaves in Europe made radio ownership less common on that continent.
World War II and the dropping of the atomic bomb ushered in a new scientific age. The second world war also added jet engines, tape recordings, and radar to its list of firsts.
The Postwar Period
Technology assisted Europe in its recovery from the world wars. New equipment and improved seeds increased agricultural yields, while modern industrial equipment increased production of textiles and metal goods, including automobiles and appliances.
In the 1950s, scientific technology led British and U.S. scientists to discover the composition of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Scientific farming based on genetics led to further improvements in seeds and pesticides. Genetic research produced the first incident of animal cloning (a cloned sheep) in Scotland in 1997.
Medical treatments and sanitation improved. New drugs, such as penicillin (discovered in 1928) as well as immunizations against diphtheria and poliomyelitis lowered the death rate. X-rays, ultrasound, and imaging assisted medical diagnoses. Indoor plumbing improved sanitation.
In 1949, the Soviet Union developed its own atomic bomb. From that time until the 1980s, both the United States (1952) and the Soviet Union (1953) built hydrogen bombs and developed ever more sophisticated weapons of war and defense. In 1972, as a result of the nuclear arms race, European countries convened a conference on security issues in Helsinki, Finland. In 1975, the Helsinki Accords called for contacts between nations on both sides of the Iron Curtain and also addressed the issue of human rights.
The Space Age
The twentieth century saw the exploration of new horizons in space. In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first satellite, and in 1961 sent the first manned flight into space. The United States soon followed in the space race, succeeding in landing astronauts on the moon in 1969. In the 1970s, the United States and the Soviet Union cooperated in docking spacecraft and later cooperated in work on the International Space Station. Cooperation between the United States and European nations led to the development in 1990 of the Hubble Space Telescope, which is capable of observing objects in remote areas of the universe. U.S. orbiter landings on Mars have provided opportunities for investigation of potential landing sites on the Red Planet.
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