J. van Dongen
- Out of a clear blue sky? FOM, the bomb and the boost in Dutch physics funding after World War II
- Volume | Issue number
- 55 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Theoretical Physics Amsterdam (ITFA)
Soon after the end of World War II, Dutch science was reconstituted by novel funding agencies with well-filled coffers. The currently received view is that in a vulnerable and war-torn society the new institutions were created on the basis of technocratic ideals that date back to pre-war years. One of these agencies, the Foundation for Fundamental Research of Matter (or ‘FOM’), was founded by the Schermerhorn administration to coordinate nuclear research and it attracted by far the most funds. This imbalance in funding, however, is hard to understand from the perspective of the received view alone. We wish to emphasize instead that particularly relevant for understanding FOM's early history, and, by implication, the early history of Dutch post-war science, is a change in attitudes regarding ‘fundamental’ physics that followed closely on the heels of the dropping of the atomic bombs in August of 1945. A new and substantial effort in basic physics was suddenly deemed necessary as a precondition for technological development, to keep pace with developments in and discussions about nuclear science abroad, and to remain within the purview of the new hegemon in the sciences, the United States.
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