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RADAR: RAdio Detection And Ranging

Jeffrey Syken

“...by their standing electromagnetic waves use we may produce at will, from a sending station, an electrical effect in any particular region of the globe; with which we may determine the relative position or course of a moving object, such as a vessel at sea, the distance traversed by the same, or its speed.”
Nikola Tesla, August 1917

Tesla was not the first to realize that wave energy could be reflected back off solid objects – that distinction belonged to German physicist Heinrich Hertz who demonstrated the effect in 1886. From that point on, there was steady development of the principle around the world, but Tesla saw clearly its full potential sooner than most.

In the years leading up to WWII, many countries were experimenting and developing what the British called Radio Location. Realizing the growing threat to peace from the axis powers, the United States and Great Britain pooled their resources to develop a radio location system that would have no peer. They succeeded magnificently and in 1941, the U.S. Navy’s acronym: RADAR (RAdio Detection And Ranging) stuck, eventually becoming a noun in the English language.

Starting with the 1940 Battle of Britain, to the saturation bombing of the Japanese homeland at the tail-end of the war (1945), the secret weapon of radar was employed on land, sea and air thus ensuring the allied victory. The needs of the cold war hastened further development of radar systems taking full advantage of the Doppler Effect (to allow ground targets to be observed). In the mid-1950s, IBM introduced SAGE – a sophisticated computer system to coordinate the voluminous data from radar stations and other sources. Radar had come a long way from its first use (in 1938) for directing searchlights – it was at the very heart of national defense.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials., deaeration, disinfection and ultraviolet irradiation.

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