The most notable events of the early 20th century were, without a doubt, the two world wars, where scientists and inventors struggled to come up with better, faster and more efficient methods for killing and succeeded. Each side building bigger and better machines for attack and defence, but could the wars alone account for all the technological advances?
At the start of the First World War, the war was fought like any other - horseback, rifles, cavalry and so on. Very traditional methods which hadn't changed much since the English civil war. However, by the end of the war, we had a completely different method of fighting wars, this time with tanks, fighter planes, machine guns and chemical and biological warfare. There can be no doubt that war facilitated a rise in technology level.
After the war advances settled down most of our effort was being spent on refining the previous inventions. Aeroplanes were made larger and could carry more people - the first airliners. Cars were mass produced, electricity became commonplace and quality of life was defiantly improving. However, this was interrupted by the Second World War, another period of increased technology output. But the end of the war we had perfected aircraft and combustion engines, radio and television communications, developed radar technology, just started learning about the atomic structure and splitting the atom as well as creating simple jet engines.
War is a terrible thing no one can deny that, but it has given us some remarkable technology improvements. All these advances follow from previous advances, from the Wright brothers aircraft to bi and tri-planes of the first world war, to the more powerful and agile monoplanes of the second. Simple improvements to a design refine and perfect.
In 1947 a UFO was reported to have crash landed in Roswell, New Mexico and was recovered by the US military. It is believed to have been taken to a secret base in Area 51 where it was studied and analysed. Over the next 20 years, mankind will go from relatively simple mechanical aircraft to landing a man on the moon, staggering developments in electrical science, computers and microcomputers, stealth technology and much more.
So just how did we make such vast technological advances in such a short amount of time? How much of this technology was reverse engineered from recovered alien aircraft?
In 1947 AT&T Bell Labs were awarded a contract by the then President Harry Truman for overseeing and management of the nuclear arsenal, as well as the commercialisation of derived technologies including the nuclear bomb, the physics, the electronics, control systems, the radar that was used, and the ICBM technology under development derived from the Nazi V-rockets. These projects were conducted under the highest security, for obvious reasons, however, they were also under the control of the Z-Division which originated from the original 509 Bomb Group based in Roswell, a division which was also presumed to be involved with the recovery of alien craft.
Now, this may be a coincidence, but it was in late 1947, November 17th to be exact, Walter Brattain invented the transistor - the single most important discovery of the 20th century.
An interesting fact is that in 1947 the materials required to create a transistor did not exist - there is no way that silicone (sand) of the required conductivity would exist in nature, and the silicone has to undergo a process known as infusion whereby the silicone is combined with another element in order to increase or decrease the number of electrons. This process requires a higher level of technology that was available at the time. The transistor technology itself was way beyond that of the time; although several devices were described in the past none, were ever built or tested.
Another interesting fact, during 1947 and 48 there was increased tension over the start of the cold war, a lot of missile bases and anti-aircraft installations were erected across the eastern side of America, particularly in New Jersey. The public was told that these bases were "to protect the residents of Central New Jersey from Russian Nuclear bombardment" and towards the end of the 40's Bell Labs arranged impressive guided tours of the then two NIKE missile installations as part of a field trip from the local grade and junior high schools. On investigation however, it has been shown that most of the bases were situated within a few miles of the Bell Labs two main research facilities. Another set of missile bases was located in New Jersey's Gateway National Park, a location that quite clearly guards the eastern air corridor entry to Crawford Corners, one of Bell's most secretive laboratories at the time.
Were they, in fact, just protecting Bell Labs from alien surveillance or space invasion? If an alien craft had been recovered and its technology being reverse engineered, surely the aliens would not be too happy. The public was told that the bases were to protect New York Harbour, 35 miles North East and Newark, New Jersey, 25 miles north, however according to Janes Catalogue of Military Weapons; these missiles had a maximum altitude of 13 miles and 20-25 miles outside range, maximum. Why not protect New York City, 60 miles distant, and place the launch pads where they could do so?
One final interesting fact, the Soviet technology of the time, in spite of its advanced state, still used Miniature Vacuum Tubes right up until the 70's... If Bell Labs, Motorola, Fairchild, Intel and others could perfect the transistor, why not anybody else? The Soviet Union certainly did not lack scientists or research programs, so why were they unable to build their own transistors until much later? Could it be that the Russians did not have an alien craft to work from? Or did they just lack the correct sand?
The transistor has undoubtedly been the most influential and important advancement in the history of mankind (even better than sliced bread!) yet its invention is still surrounded in secrecy and wrapped in conspiracy theories. Are Bell Labs being used to leak "new" technology into the public domain? How many other technologies exist derived from alien technology?