Many elements transform from a high temperature bcc phase to a more dense packed temperature phase. The great majority of these transitions are of 1st order, displacive and reconstructive. The lattice potentials which govern these martensitic transitions can be probed by inelastic neutron scattering, thereby answering fundamental questions like : Will the transition be announced by dynamical or static fluctuations? What are the trajectories for the displacements needed for the transformation? Does the vibrational entropy stabilize the high temperature phase? Are the unusual transport properties in these materials related to their ability to transform? (author) 17 figs., 1 tab., 46 refs.