Vannevar Bush

National Medal of Science

Engineering

For his distinguished achievements in electrical engineering, in the technology of computing machines, in the effective coupling of the physical and life sciences; and in his mobilizing science, engineering and education in enduring ways in the service of the Nation.

For his distinguished achievements in electrical engineering, in the technology of computing machines, in the effective coupling of the physical and life sciences; and in his mobilizing science, engineering and education in enduring ways in the service of the Nation.

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Birth
March 11, 1890
Age Awarded
73
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Proximity Fuze For Artillery Shells
Manhattan Project
Awarded by
Lyndon Baines Johnson
Education
Tufts University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Areas of Impact
Transportation
Communication & Information
Affiliations
Carnegie Institution of Washington
Other Prizes
National Inventors Hall of Fame
I

In 1945, atomic bombs detonated over Japan, securing America’s victory in World War II. If not for the persistence of one man, however, things might have turned out differently.

Vannevar Bush, initiator of the Manhattan Project – a secret endeavor to build America’s first nuclear weapon – feared the Nazis might beat America to the punch.

“... the result in the hands of Hitler might indeed enable him to enslave the world,” Bush wrote in “Pieces of the Action,” a memoir. “It was essential to get there first.”

During the war, Bush, an MIT engineer and founder of electronics company Raytheon, led the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development, which oversaw the creation of new weapons.

In addition to the a-bomb, Bush spearheaded the development of the proximity fuze, an explosive that detonates near a target.

“This has not been a scientist’s war,” he wrote in The Atlantic Monthly in 1945. “It has been a war in which all have had a part.”

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