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Science and the Military in Modern States

12 November, 2013
Universidade de São Paulo

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Date / Time

November 12 (Tue.) 16:00-17:30


Auditorium ET-3, Naval Engineering Building, Escola Politécnica, Universidade de São Paulo



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Since its birth in the 17th century, modern science (including technology, engineering, and medicine) has kept a tight, though not always harmonious, relation with the military. The 20th century saw this relation grow more systematized, more intertwined, and more indispensable to both sides: During the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), the newly adopted wireless communication, as well as the renovation in such traditional weapons as guns, rifles, gunpowder, and warships, played a crucial role for Japan’s victory; while the advent of military application of scientific research of an unprecedented scale at World War I (1914-1918) astonished politicians and generals of western powers, defeated Germany’s international status did not sink after the war largely because of the enormous worldwide influence of the German-speaking scientists; the atomic bombs developed and used during World War II (1939-1945) changed the fundamentals of both international politics and science and technology policy.

This session will present three cases (figures) that reveal the diversity of science-military relations in the 20th century: Shozo Motoyama will discuss the life and work of Álvaro Alberto (1889-1976), who, while working for the Brazilian Navy for thirty years, founded CNPq (National Council of Technological and Scientific Development), served as the Brazilian representative at the Atomic Energy Commission of the United Nations, and chaired the Brazilian Academy of Sciences; Hiroyuki Yamato will focus on the activities of Yuzuru Hiraga (1878-1943) as the President of Tokyo Imperial University and leading navy engineer during the crucial period that Japan fought the three wars mentioned above; and Takuji Okamoto will examine the Japanese nuclear physicists’ research since the late 1930s and involvement in the wartime programs including the nuclear weapon projects.


Shozo Motoyama “The Life and Work of Álvaro Alberto (1889-1976)”
Hiroyuki Yamato “Yuzuru Hiraga, the Engineer in the Military and Academia”
Takuji Okamoto “Nuclear Physics and Nuclear Weapon Projects in Japan during World War II”


Shozo Motoyama USP
Hiroyuki Yamato Executive Vice President and Professor, UTokyo
Takuji Okamoto Associate Professor, UTokyo