Beginning most explicitly with the American involvement in the Korean War, and continuing unabated until 1970, the demand for Ph.D.-trained physicists in the United States followed a particular Cold War logic of "manpower" and requisitions. This logic, rehearsed by senior physicists, university administrators, government commissions, individual senators, and newspaper reporters from across the country argued that young graduate students in physics constituted the nation's most precious resource. The purported need to train ever-larger numbers of physics graduate students was often used to justify the structural rearrangements associated with "big science," from huge federally-subsidized budgets to factory-sized equipment. The exigencies of training roomfuls of graduate students, rather than mentoring handfuls of disciples, reinforced the prevailing American pragmatic, instrumentalist approach to theory.
Cold War requisitions, scientific manpower, and the production of American physicists after World War II
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David Kaiser; Cold War requisitions, scientific manpower, and the production of American physicists after World War II. Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences 1 September 2002; 33 (1): 131–159. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/hsps.2002.33.1.131
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