By: Robert A. Millikan
Date: November 1928
Source: Millikan, Robert A. "The Relation of Science to Industry." Address delivered at the annual dinner of the New York Chamber of Commerce, November 1928. Published in Millikan, Robert A. Science and the New Civilization. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1930, 36–39.
About the Author: Robert Andrews Millikan (1868–1953), a native of Morrison, Illinois, received his Ph.D. in physics in 1895 from Columbia University. He then studied at Göttingen and Berlin in Germany, returning the following year to take a position at the Ryerson Laboratory of the University of Chicago. While there, he conducted an "oil-drop" experiment that measured the charge of an electron, which won him the Nobel Prize for physics in 1923. From 1921 to 1945 Millikan worked at the California Institute of Technology, contributing to the knowledge of cosmic rays and vacuum ultraviolet spectroscopy.
The idea that science yields practical results has a long history in America. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, two leading American statesmen and scientists of the eighteenth century, distinguished between European and American science. They believed that European science sought knowledge...
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The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory
By: Werner Heisenberg
Date: July 1930
Source: Heisenberg, Werner. The Physical Principles of The Quantum Theory. Carl Eckart and Frank C. Hoyt, trans. Chicago: Dover Publications, 1930, 1–4.
About the Author: Werner Heisenberg (1901–1976) was born in Wurzburg, Germany. He received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Munich in 1923, then assisted physicist Max Born at the University of Göttingen, and in 1924 worked with Niels Bohr at the University of Copenhagen. Heisenberg's publication of his theory of quantum mechanics in 1925 at the age of 23 won him the Nobel Prize in 1932. In 1941 he became Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, as well as Professor of Physics at the University of Berlin. He was taken prisoner at the end of World War II and removed to England, but later returned as head of the Max Planck Institute for Physics. The extent of his involvement with Nazi nuclear weapons research has been a subject of controversy.
The principal tenet of physics is that a distinction exists between an observer and the object being observed. An observer, being distinct from an object, can measure and manipulate it. Because an object is distinct from whoever observes it, several observers...
(The entire section is 2085 words.)
The World as I See It
By: Albert Einstein
Source: Einstein, Albert. The World as I See It. Alan Harris, trans. New York: Covici-Friede, 1934, xv–xvi, 278–284. Originally published as Mein Weltbild. Amsterdam: Querido Verlag, 1933.
About the Author: Albert Einstein (1879–1955) was born in Ulm, Germany. Although interested in mathematics, Einstein did not do well in Germany's rigid school system. His family moved to Berne, Switzerland, where he found employment as an assistant patents clerk. It was during his spare time at this job that he jotted down the ideas that would become the basis for his revolutionary theories, most notably his general and special theories of relativity. In 1921, Einstein won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the photoelectric effect. In 1933, the Nazi persecutions of Jewish scientists caused Einstein to flee to the United States, where he became professor of theoretical physics at Princeton University in New Jersey. He held that position until 1945, spending his last years in semiretirement in Princeton.
By the 1930s, Albert Einstein was perhaps the world's most famous person. His fame rested on his scientific work, especially his theories of relativity. Although...
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Patterns of Culture
By: Ruth Benedict
Source: Benedict, Ruth. Patterns of Culture. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1934. Reprint, with a new preface by Margaret Mead, 1959, 45–47.
About the Author: Ruth Fulton Benedict (1887–1948), born in New York, received a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University in 1923. She began teaching at that institution the following year, and was appointed its Director of Anthropology in 1936. In 1941, Benedict became a founding member of the Institute for Intercultural Studies. At the time of her death she was in the midst of a four-year Contemporary Cultures Project for Columbia, which involved more than 120 participants studying seven divergent cultures.
Anthropology developed in nineteenth-century Europe and the United States. Its practitioners were men of European ancestry who regarded Western culture as the pinnacle of human achievement. They regarded non-Western cultures as inferior to the West. A corollary of this belief was the insistence that non-Europeans—Africans, Asians, Native Americans, aboriginal Australians, Polynesians—were inferior to Europeans and Americans of European descent.
This racism and sense of cultural supremacy comforted...
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Bankhead-Jones Act of 1935
By: U.S. Congress
Date: June 29, 1935
Source: U.S. Congress. Bankhead-Jones Act of 1935. 49 Stat. 436. June 29, 1935. Reprinted in Knoblauch, Harold C., Ernest M. Law, and W.P. Meyer. State Agricultural Experiment Stations: A History of Research Policy and Procedure. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1962, 223–225.
About the Author: John Hollis Bankhead Jr. (1872–1946) was born in Jasper, Alabama. He received his law degree from Georgetown University in 1893 and was admitted to the bar that same year. Elected to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat in 1930, he was reelected in 1936 and 1942, while at the same time serving as trustee of the University of Alabama. He was also chairman of the Congressional Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation. He died while serving in office.
American farmers prospered during World War I (1914–1918) as they fed not only Americans but their British and French allies. The war's end in 1919 allowed British and French farmers to resume production, leaving American farmers with a surplus they couldn't sell overseas. This surplus drove down food prices, which had not regained their World War I levels when the Great Depression struck. Between 1929 and 1933 U.S. farm...
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"Riddle of Life"
By: Max Delbrück
Date: August 1937
Source: Delbrück, Max. "Riddle of Life." Memorandum to Niels Bohr, Berlin, August 1937. Published as an Appendix to "A Physicist's Renewed Look at Biology—Twenty Years Later." Nobel lecture, December 10, 1969. Reprinted in Fischer, Ernst Peter, and Carol Lipson. Thinking About Science: Max Delbrück and the Origins of Molecular Biology. New York: W.W. Norton, 1988, 99–101. Available online at http://www.nobel.se/medicine/laureates/1969/Delbruck-lectur... ; website home page: http://www.nobel.se (accessed March 17, 2003).
About the Author: Max Delbrück (1906–1981) obtained a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics at Göttingen University in 1930. Over the next several years, he worked with Niels Bohr in Copenhagen and Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner at the Kaiser Wilhem Institute in his native Berlin. The Nazi persecution of Jewish scientists caused Delbrück to leave for the United States in 1937, where he spent two years at Cal Tech on a Rockefeller fellowship. Delbrück served as Professor of Physics at Vanderbilt University from 1939 to 1947, then returned to Cal Tech as a biology professor. His contributions to the emerging field of...
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The Story of the Winged-S
By: Igor Sikorsky
Date: October 1938
Source: Sikorsky, Igor. The Story of the Winged-S: With New Material on the Latest Development of the Helicopter. 5th ed. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1938, 24–26.
About the Author: Igor Sikorsky (1889–1972) was born in Kiev, Russia. He attended the Naval War College in St. Petersburg, but his interested turned to aviation. Sikorsky designed aircraft in Russia, including the first-ever four-engine plane, until the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. He then emigrated to the United States. In 1923, he and other Russian emigrants formed the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Company. This firm designed a number of fixed-wing aircraft, but it was not until Sikorsky developed the first practical helicopter in 1939 that it enjoyed real success.
As early as 400 C.E. the Chinese developed a prototype of the helicopter by designing a kite with a rotary blade for vertical lift. Medieval Europeans developed toy helicopters in which one pulled a string to spin the blade. In the fifteenth century Leonardo da Vinci drew diagrams of a helicopter with a spiral airscrew for lift.
The twentieth century witnessed the transition from toy to real helicopters. In September...
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Letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
By: Albert Einstein
Date: August 2, 1939
Source: Einstein, Albert. Letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, August 2, 1939. Albert Einstein Archives. The Jewish National and University Library. Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. Available online at http://www.aip.org/history/einstein/nuclear1.htm; website home page: http://www.aip.org (accessed October 16, 2002).
About the Author: Albert Einstein (1879–1955) was born in Ulm, Germany. Although interested in mathematics, Einstein did not do well in the rigid German school system. His family moved to Berne, Switzerland, where he found employment as an assistant patents clerk. It was during his spare time at this job that he jotted down the ideas that would be the basis for his revolutionary theories, including his theories of relativity, which led to his winning the Nobel Prize in 1921. The Nazi persecutions of Jewish scientists caused Einstein to flee to the United States in 1933, where he became Professor of Theoretical Physics at Princeton University. He held that position until 1945, and spent his last years in semi-retirement at Princeton.
In 1905, Albert...
(The entire section is 1644 words.)
"The Struggles to Find the Ninth Planet"
By: Clyde W. Tombaugh
Source: Tombaugh, Clyde W. "The Struggles to Find the Ninth Planet." NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Outer Planets Solar Probe Project. Available online at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ice_fire/9thplant.htm; website home page: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov (accessed October 15, 2002).
About the Author: Clyde Tombaugh (1906–1997) attended high school in his native Streator, Illinois. His amateur astronomy work won him a place at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he discovered Pluto in 1930. He received his M.S. in physics in 1938 from the University of Kansas, while continuing to work full-time at the Lowell Observatory. During World War II (1939–1945), he was a navigation instructor for the U.S. Navy at Arizona State University. From 1955 until 1973, Tombaugh taught at New Mexico State University, where he founded that school's astronomy program.
In the sixteenth century, Nicholas Copernicus announced that Earth was a planet, bringing the number of planets to six. (In sequence from the sun, they are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.) Until the eighteenth...
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Whittle's Turbojet Engine
By: Frank Whittle
Source: Midland Air Museum. "The Jet Engine." Available online at http://www.midlandairmuseum.org.uk/thejet.html (accessed October 15, 2002).
About the Inventor: Frank Whittle (1907–1996) was born in Earlsdon, England. The son of a mechanic, he was inspired to join the Royal Air Force (RAF) because of a toy airplane his father made for him. In 1928 Whittle joined a fighter squadron, and remained with the RAF until 1948. Afterward, he continued devising improvements to gas turbines and served as adviser to the aviation industry. He moved to the United States in 1976, and became a research professor at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Early aircraft were much slower than those used today. At first, this was due to the relatively weak engines
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"The Evolution of the Cyclotron"
By: Ernest O. Lawrence
Date: December 11, 1951
Source: Lawrence, Ernest O. "The Evolution of the Cyclotron." Nobel lecture, December 11, 1951. Available online at http://www.nobel.se/physics/laureates/1939/lawrence-lecture... ; website home page: http://www.nobel.se (accessed October 16, 2002).
About the Author: Ernest O. Lawrence (1901–1958) was born in Canton, South Dakota. He earned a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Minnesota in 1925. Three years later he obtained a position of Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Berkeley. Lawrence was appointed the university's youngest professor in 1930, and in 1936 he also became Director of the university's Radiation Lab. Lawrence made many contributions to nuclear physics, including the invention of the cyclotron in 1929. He won the Nobel Prize in 1939.
In 1802 the British chemist John Dalton resurrected the ancient Greek idea that atoms compose all matter. Atoms were the fundamental building blocks of matter and could not be divided, thought Dalton.
Physicists retained Dalton's belief that atoms compose all matter,...
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