Science and technology in the United Kingdom 49
Science and technology in the United Kingdom has a long history, producing many important figures and achievements in the fields.
Great Britain was the leading centre of the Scientific Revolution and Industrial Revolution from the 17th century and the 18th century. It was James Watt (1736-1819) , a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer whose invention of steam engine in 1736 powered the Industrial Revolution in the UK and played a key role in transforming England into the world's first industrialized nation.
Since James Watt the UK has produced a lot of scientists and engineers credited with important advances. Some of the major theories, discoveries and applications advanced by people from the UK are given below.
Major theorists from the UK include Isaac Newton (1643-1727), physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, who was for more than 30 years a lecturer of mathematics at Cambridge. In 1665 he advanced an idea that light consisted of small particles, called today as photons. Later on he came to the conclusion that light had a dual nature and was a combination of photons and waves. When he got interested in the problem of the cause of the motion of the planets he came to the conclusion that the force that kept the planets in the orbits round the sun was the same force that caused objects to fall onto the ground, namely the force of gravity. A popular legend says that he made his discovery while observing the fall of an apple from a tree in his garden. In 1884 Newton published his famous book the “Principia” in which he explained the law of universal gravitation and motion that has been seen as a keystone of modern science.
Newton was elected a member of the Royal Scientific Society for the invention of mirror telescope which made a great impression on the contemporaries.
There is a monument to Newton in Trinity College at Cambridge with the inscription: “Newton Who Surpassed All Men of Science”.
Major scientific discoveries include hydrogen by Henry Cavendish (1731-1810) and Charles Darwin ‘s (1809–82) theory of evolution by natural selection, fundamental to the development of modern biology.
Major engineering projects and applications pursued by people from the UK include the steam locomotive developed by Richard Trevithick (1771-1833) and Andrew Vivian(1759-1842).
The electric motor was engineered by Michael Faraday (1771–1867), who largely made electricity viable for use in technology.
The theory of aerodynamics was discovered by Sir George Cayley (1773–1857).
The first public steam railway as constructed by George Stephenson (1781–1848).
The first commercial electrical telegraph was co-invented by Sir William Fothergill Cooke (1806–79) and Charles Wheatstone (1802–75).
The first tunnel under a navigable river, the first all iron ship and the first railway to run express services were contributed to by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806–59).
The invention of the incandescent light bulb (лампы накаливания), by Joseph Swan dates back 1826–1914.
The unification of electromagnetism belongs to James Clerk Maxwell (1831–79) who was born in Edinburgh in Scotland and worked both as a professor of experimental physics first at Kings College in London and in Cambridge University. He wrote a great number of works in the field of kinetic theory of gases and electricity.
The first practical telephone was patented by Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922) who also was born in Scotland. Both his grandfather and his father studied the mechanics of a sound and became the pioneer teachers of speech to the deaf people. In 1871 Alexander Bell moved to the USA where he became the professor of Boston University.
Later on the UK continued to play a major role in the development of science and technology. Major technological advances in this country include the aerospace, motor and pharmaceutical industries.
· The discovery of penicillin, by biologist and pharmacologist, Sir Alexander Fleming (1881–1955).
· The world's first working television system, and colour television, by John Logie Baird (1888–1946).
· The first synthesis of quantum mechanics with special relativity by Paul Dirac (1902–84) in the equation named after him, and his subsequent prediction of antimatter.
· The invention of the jet engine, by Frank Whittle (1907–96).
· The invention of the hovercraft (судно на воздушной подушке), by Christopher Cockerell (1910–99).
· The structure of DNA by Francis Crick (1916–2004).
· The theoretical breakthrough of the Higgs mechanism to explain electroweak symmetry breaking and why some particles have mass, by Peter Higgs (1929-).
The UK has been playing a very great role in the field of computing. “A father of computer” Charles Babbage(1791-1871) was born in Great Britain. A mathematician, philosopher and mechanical engineer, Charles Babbage is credited with inventing the first mechanical computer. Although his computer was not completed it is considered the one which led to more complex designs. In 1991 his computer was constructed from the parts on display in the London Science Museum according to Babbage original plan and it was proved that Charles Babbage’s computer could have worked.
The invention of the first digital computer also belongs to the Englishman Alan Turing (1912–54). So-called Turing Machine became the foundation of the modern theory of computation. Besides during the Second World War Turing was a leading successful participant in the breaking of German ciphers.
Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical science and artificial intelligence. In 1950 he published a very impressive work “Computing machinery and intelligence”, foreseeing many questions of artificial intelligence. In this paper he proposed the Turing Test, which is still applied in attempting to answer whether a computer can be intelligent
Scientists are continuing to play a very important role in the UK Tim-Berners Lee (1989) took a great part in the creation of the World Wide Web.
Some words about a very important British scientist Stephen Hawking (1942–). In spite of his terrible physical state (he is paralyzed and can work only on computer with eyes) Hawking made outstanding discoveries and theories in cosmology, quantum gravity and black holes.
The UK remains a leading centre of auto design and production, particularly of engines, and has around 2,600 component manufacturers.The UK plays a leading part in the aerospace industry, with companies including Rolls-Royce playing a leading role in the aero-engine market;
BAE Systems defense company, developing armory and information security acting as Britain's largest and the Pentagon's sixth largest defense supplier of military weapons.
GKN (концерн, производящий компоненты автомобилей, вертолетов, сельхоз техники и др.) acting as major suppliers to the Airbus project. The Airbus A380 has wings and engines manufactured in the UK. Two British-based companies, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, ranked in the top five pharmaceutical companies in the world by sales in 2009 and UK companies have discovered and developed more leading medicines than any other country apart from the US.