Latest posts by Yaqoob AlShamsi (@yaqoobalshamsi) (see all)
- What Does Militarizing Scientific Research Really Mean? - July 24, 2017
- The Journeys of 2 Women in UAE’s STEM - January 24, 2017
- Ever Noticed The Heritage Sites On Our Banknotes? - October 17, 2016
Militarizing scientific research is a proven method to expand on researches and push them to their full potential in many cases, so what does it mean, what are examples of its positive and negative impact, and how can we implement one.
It was not more than six years after the first airplane invented by the Wright Brothers that the United States military started to militarize airplanes . By acknowledging that air superiority is a newly added brush in the art of war, airplanes became faster, heavier, and stealthier by the decade. However, the militarization of an airplane was expected as it was done before with the hot air balloon. The switch between civilian use to military use is the definition of militarization. Nevertheless, it is evident that all technologies develop exponentially when they get militarized. So how do we benefit from this idea as the new Emirati scientific research pioneers? First, as the country is still building its scientific research plan, it should be highly recommended that the militarization of all scientific research becomes its main goal. It may seem debatable to some scientific researchers that not all scientific progress can be done through militarization. However, it is evident for many engineers and scientists that militarizing a scientific research is what uncovers new science fields. Therefore, we can learn from modern history how many of our technologies that are brought to us today were once militarized at a point in the research. Second, there should be a milestone on the timeline where the militarization of scientific research is published to the public society after setting it to become harmless and controllable.
Space exploration research, for instance, brought us many technologies that we use every day . For example, in the field of environmental and agricultural resources, the outcome given was harnessing solar energy, pollution remediation, and water purification. Also, in the field transportation, the outcome given was anti-icing systems, highway safety, and chemical detection. Many examples can be given in health, medicine, public safety, and computer technology as well. However, the funding for space exploration accelerated when President J. F. Kennedy promised to go to the moon. As much as his speeches were inspirational, world renowned scientist and science popularizer Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson argues that the United States managed to put a man on the moon because of militarization motives . Therefore, civilian funding is considered an anomaly if the wish was to start modern scientific research.
In addition to the militarization of space exploration, another field of science once militarized and flourished was chemistry. For example, the funding of particle accelerators uncovered elements 93 to 103 in the periodic table. Also, many other elements, if we counted from 113 to 118. However, once the military stopped the funding, particle accelerators research decelerated in growth. Hence, we can deduce that the “Higgs particle” -that was only found in 2013 while expressed as an idea back in the 1960s- could have been discovered ahead of its time if the militarization of the field continued. Another example of militarizing physics and chemistry is the Manhattan Project . Once the United States developed an atomic program, the nuclear bomb was an outcome. Therefore, it may seem that not all militarization of scientific research is a beneficial result to humanity. However, safe nuclear power was another outcome from the project.
By taking the lessons of the past from a globalization perspective, it can be deduced that the militarization of a scientific research exponentially advances the research, but does not promise any safety. A counter thought is the philosophy of progress in civilization. For example, the invention of the spear is considered good progress. A method used to kill the herd by setting a human capability limitation on the number of preys hunted in the day. However, when the hunter-gatherer invented a method to move large rocks and traps the herd in one zone, then there is no limitation to the human capability causing a disruption in the food chain. Therefore, not all progress is considered good progress .
Furthermore, it should be noted that an existence of a UAE DRA (Defense Research Agency) is a necessity to set a government authority of scientific research militarization in motion. For example, once the UAE DRA analyzes the beneficial research from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research or UAE scientist’s council, the military ranks the importance of the research to set its priorities. Then, local defense companies and educational institutions are given the scope of the projects. However, different restrictions should be set on the level of clearances from defense companies to local universities. Additionally, once the projects are beneficial to the military, then UAE DRA publishes the research after it becomes harmless and controlled by the military for further development by the public or under public funding.
In conclusion, from the points that were mentioned previously, many fields of sciences are needed to be funded by the military for scientific progress. However, for that progress to become beneficial to society, it needs to be contained by a governmental authority. Therefore, the government authority (Defense Research Agency) could be the militarizing starting point for all scientific research brought to the public. Once it becomes containable, the research is published for public development. Additionally, all scientists would have absolute loyalty in military’s interests and demands, as its main purpose is to protect this beloved prosperous country.
 Jakab Peter J, The world’s first military airplane, The National Air and Space Museum, United States. July 23, 2009. http://blog.nasm.si.edu/aviation/the-world%E2%80%99s-first-military-airplane/