Laboratory of War (2000)
More than ever we look to scientists to improve the quality of our lives through medicine and technology but there is something else waiting to harness the potential of 21st century science - war. Science and technology have been linked to warfare - from gunpowder, to poison gas, to nuclear weapons. But in this century the science of war will move closer to the front line of battle.
In Laboratory Of War, Gerry Northam tells the story of how scientists are both creating and combating new challenges to international security. Biological weapon technology may have fallen into the hands of terrorist organisations threatening to wipe out specific racial groups. Governments are on the run from the new urban guerrilla - the computer hacker- and are in turn developing the means to use computers to wage war by disrupting the societies of potential enemies. And in the US the use of virtual reality training, pinpoint satellite location systems and ultra-accurate weapons is set to revolutionise the Pentagon's ability to fight war.
Developments in information and technology have the potential to change the face of the battlefield. Historians are in agreement that in the 14th century the 6ft long bow revolutionised war, sailing ships that were used to carry troops and artillery closely followed, and in the 16th century the introduction of fortresses changed battle plans forever. But is technology all you need to win wars?
Phil Sabin, Professor of Strategic Studies at King's College London, looks at the revolution in military affairs and the impact it has for war, strategy, defense and civilians.
'The essential element is a more than gradual change, where the nature of warfare undergoes a step change, due to a combination of new technologies with new tactics which change the face of war in a fundamental fashion. Gunpowder is a clear example of a revolution in military affairs, but it is the institution of gunpowder and what that allows you to do with standing armies, and the mobilisation of state power, that changes it into a very different form of war.'