Monday, October 9, 2017

The coolness of history....................

........................or just more fun stuff I neglected to learn in school:

It seemed the bombing would never end.  As World War II raged on, the UK was being pounded by the planes of Hitler's Luftwaffe.  But the UK was developing a secret weapon that had the power to turn the tide:  a new type of radar. ...

     While the UK had cracked the problem of creating the tech, manufacturing it at a large enough scale and fast enough to save their country would be impossible.  Under relentless Nazi bombardment, there just wasn't the capacity to produce thousands upon thousands of microwave radar devices in short order.
     But there was another way.  Radar technology had already benefited from collaboration between the Allied powers;  maybe once again collaboration would save Great Britain. ...
     The Radiation Laboratory at MIT headed up the project.  (The name was deliberately made vague to conceal the purpose of their mission.  It was later given the much cooler nickname of the "Rad Lab.")  Thirty-five hundred people were employed at the lab, including some of the most brilliant minds of that generation.  Nine would later go on to win a Nobel Prize for other work.
     The advancements they made were spectacular.  One of their systems would be used to direct UK antiaircraft fire and was responsible for taking out 85% of the German V-1 bombs, which had been tearing London apart.  Another type of radar was so sensitive it could detect the periscope on Nazi submarines, allowing the Allies to gain the edge in naval warfare.
      But before these tremendous successes would be realized on the battlefield, the Rad Lab faced one enormous problem:  the damn device didn't work.  At least not consistently.  Testing the new radar off the Charles River in Cambridge, they kept experiencing failures.  Again and again, when it seemed they knew the science in and out, when they tracked down every bug, every problem, the radar would utterly fail.  It was inexplicable.  It felt like God did not want them to succeed, like some great power was actively working against them.
     They were right.  But it wasn't God.  It was Harvard.
      Unbeknownst to MIT,  the Radio Research Laboratory at Harvard University had received millions of dollars from the U. S. government to secretly develop radar jamming technology, which they were testing on the other side of the Charles River. ...
      Luckily, before the MIT researchers had been driven absolutely insane, the presence of the unintentional "enemies" across the Charles River was made known to them, and then a new type of powerful collaboration began:  a healthy rivalry.
      MIT redoubled their efforts to overcome Harvard's jamming technologies and Harvard fought back with better ways of beating MIT's radar.  The resulting progress from the two academic giants was stunning.
      With Harvard's "help,"  MIT's radar became devastating:

             In November 1942, U-boats claimed 117 Allied ships.
             Less than a year later, in the two-month period of September
             to October 1943, only 9 Allied ships were sunk, while a
             total of 25 U-boats were destroyed  by aircraft equipped
             with ASV radars.

      And with MIT's "assistance," Harvard's jamming technology drove the Nazis into a panic:

             So effective was the Allies' jamming system - it reduced
             German anti-aircraft efficiency by 75% - ...
       Many now believe that radar was what won the war.

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