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Science and War: The Rede Lecture, 1919

Nature volume 104, page 352 (04 December 1919) | Download Citation



LORD MOULTON's lecture gives a striking picture of the manner in which the methods of warfare have been transformed by the application to military purposes of the results of the rapid growth of chemical and physical knowledge and the advances in engineering and medical science during the last half-century. Not unnaturally, a considerable part of the discourse is devoted to the subject of explosives, on which the lecturer can speak with special authority, and the warning which he gives as to the importance of establishing the manufacture of nitric acid from atmospheric nitrogen in this country is one that deserves serious attention. Lord Moulton's final conclusion is that man, “endowed with all the powers that science has given him, will be self-destructive unless his social instincts . . . become sufficiently strong to induce him voluntarily to submit to those powers being fettered.” “It is easy to criticise the League of Nations, but let us never forget that some combined action of that type is necessary.”

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