Short Paper about Truth in the Manhatten Project Era college
topic: History of Science in the 20th Century
The period of 1937-1940, the years just before the Second World War, juxtaposed two opposing theories of knowledge and truth. One was the scientific search for beauty and order in the universe, as the physicists of the era were doing; the other, proferred by the politicians and tyrants, was one of hatred and evil.
formats: Adobe PDF (30.6kB), PostScript (57.2kB), TeX (3.1kB) 1995-10-31 quality 4

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\rightline {Zak Smith}
\rightline {October 31, 1995}
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The period of 1937--1940, the years just before the Second World
War, juxtaposed two opposing theories of knowledge and truth. 
One was the scientific search for beauty and order in the universe, 
as the physicists of the era were doing; the other, proferred by
the politicians and tyrants, was one of hatred and evil.
\par

Bohr and Rutherford were living examples of the physicists' viewpoint.  Bohr 
helped out his fellow scientists when they were feeling pressure from
governments by inviting them to live in his castle until a time that
they felt comfortable to leave.  This was a generous offer in a time
when the Russian and German governments were sequestering their scientists,
or driving away the ones the disliked because of race or idealogical
reasons.  Rutherford further loved good science, regardless of the
nationality of those who were practicing it; he was truly
a citizen of the world.  A striking example of this occured after
Kapitza was kept in Russia.  Rutherford felt so sorry for the loss
of Kapitza, and even more so, Kapitza's loss of his precious
new laboratory, that Rutherford arranged to have the whole very
expensive lab sent to Kapitza!
\par
Political pressures were forcing many of the excellent physicists
of the time from G\"ottingen, regardless of their scientific
value, just for issues such as their origin or original
nationality.  Bohr, on the other hand, indiscriminately collected
physicists from all over the world at his Institute.
\par
The actions of the new political regimes remind one of an
unthinking child who just wants the answer given to him
by the latest trick of science.  He disregards ideas from
those he doesn't like, but if they 
happen to come up with the right answer, he grabs it 
without giving recognition to the originator, and without
any support.  This was exactly what Otto Hahn did with
the results Madame Joliot-Curie found.  He had no care
for her ideas and gave her no support, but when she finally
had the right answer, he took it.  
\par
The political engines acted as vampires, sucking the
success of science and using it for their own designs, 
giving nothing in return.  They treated the physicists like
natural resources, as in the case of Kapitza, as expressed
by the British Prime Minister, Baldwin: ``Kapitza was 
commandeered as the Soviet authorities thought
he was able to give important help to the electrical 
industry.''  Further evidence that they thought of scientists
like natural resources was given by the Russian government:
``Of course England would like to have Kapitza.  We, 
for our part, would equally like to have Rutherford in the
Soviet Union.''
\par
It is ironic, and rightly so, that the German political
regimes were ultimately destroyed by their stupidity in
driving away the physicists in those years.  The ultimate
consequence was the destruction of Germany after the
war, and America's prominence in the years following.


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[Zak Smith] [zak@computer.org] [/~zak/documents/college/hsci-truth/tex]
$Id: documents,v 1.5 2000/09/28 21:20:39 zak Exp zak $
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