BALTIMORE (WJZ)– On March 10, 1942, the Applied Physics Lab, a top secret lab, housed in an empty automotive garage in Silver Spring was born.
APL’s mission us to find some way of shooting down Japanese kamikaze planes before they crash into Navy ships. The result was the radio proximity fuze, which exploded an artillery round’s shrapnel into a plane without requiring a direct hit.
“It turned the tide of the pacific and allowed the ships to hold the kamikaze threat at bay,” said Mike Lancaster of the Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.
Now at 75 years old, Hopkins Applied Physics Lab employs 5,000 people at it’s Howard County campus. A lot of them showed up to celebrate its birthday and show off some of what it’s accomplished. Like finding new ways to detect and fight off cyber attacks.
“Allow the cyber defenders to kind of have eyes into the cyberspace,” Alison Albin said.
APL also explores real space. It took 25 years to design, build and fly the new horizon’s spacecraft to Pluto.
“If you want immediate gratification the space business is not for you. If you want to do something that is absolutely amazing that’s never been done before by mankind, it is for you,” said Dr. Carey Lisse.
Not every project at APL deals with defense or space exploration.
“Better the lives of all, of all amputees that we can,” said Johnny Matheny, who lost most of his arm to cancer.
He is working with an APL team which uses sensors to detect signals from his brain to his arm’s upper muscles, which in turn control a robotic arm and hand.
What he thinks the robotic extension does. Once perfected, amputees “got ways of going back, right back to the job you had before, and you can go back to taking care of your family again,” Matheny said.
Shaking hands with the future is what APL is all about.