The millennial brightness of Albert Einstein, the pressing imminence of war and the determination to succeed of the American government and scientists, are part of the ecology of innovation that surrounded the emergence of nuclear technology, and eventually led to the creation of the atomic bomb and its destructive power.
The ecology of innovation not only includes the elements directly related to the emergence of a new technology such as its inventor, or the need it fulfilled, but also includes seemingly unimportant aspects such as the governing politics that allowed it and the conditions that created a need for that technology.
APPLIED TO David McCullough's book, The Great Bridge, this concept encompasses a whole nation in its drive towards modernization. Preceded by inventions such as the railroad and the telegraph, the second half of the 19th century stands at a time where technology is regarded as a primary option to achieving comfort. Little by little, the realization is made that perhaps nature's boundaries is not the farthest mankind can go. The middle of the 19th century also opens an era of greater involvement of the government in matters of public interests and an increase of funding as well; The Erie canal build from 1817 to 1825 is a testimony of such an involvement, and an example of the willingness to defy nature with innovation.
Also, as communications are slowly developed with the emergence of the telegraph and later the telephone, the notion of time and distance become more important than they ever were, and begin to matter in the everyday lives of people.
When observed in such an ecology, it is easy to understand how and why the idea of a bridge over the East River, connecting Brooklyn to New York came about at that particular time. Of course as in... [continues]
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