HomeTimeline HistoriansGalleryOdds and ends

Science in the 1940s

"Science is the search for truth. It is not a game in which one tries to beat his opponent, to do harm to others."
--Linus Pauling


  • Penicillan developed as antibiotic.
  • Cyclotron for atomic research goes into operation at the University of California.
  • First freeze-drying of food.
  • First vaccine against leprosy.


  • Element plutonium discovered by a team of American scientists led by Glenn Seaborg.
  • Sulfadiazine becomes most widely used sulfa drug, effective against many types of infections.


  • First U.S. jet plane, Bell XP-59, flown.
  • First electronic digital calculator.
  • Dexedrine, a stimulant for the central nervous system, produced.


  • Army doctors prevent venereal disease with sulfathiazole.
  • Streptomycin, an antibiotic that fights bacterial infection.


  • DNA, building block of heredity in living things, isolated by Oswald Avery.
  • First atom bomb tested in desert at Alamogordo, New Mexico.
  • Scarlet fever successfully treated with pencillan.


  • Dr. Benjamin Spock's The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care is published.
  • Rocket-testing range established at White Sands, New Mexico.


  • ENIAC, often called the first computer, unveiled.
  • Mayo Clinic reports that the antibiotic streptomycin checks tuberculosis.
  • Sun found to emit radio waves.


  • Dead Sea Scrolls found near Qumran, in region of Jordan later occupied by Israel.
  • Polaroid camera.
  • Mumps vaccine developed.
  • Polio virus is isolated.


  • U.N. establishes World Health Organization.
  • 200 inch mirror telescope dedicated on Mount Palomar, CA
  • Transistor invented.


  • American Cancer Society takes stand against cigarette smoking.
  • Cortisone is manufactured.

  • Vacuum tubes for the first computer.
    To Odds and Ends