Letter | Published:

[Letters to the Editors]

Nature volume 127, page 482 (28 March 1931) | Download Citation



I HAVE to thank Sir James Jeans for his courteous reception (NATURE, Feb. 28, p. 304) of my recent communication in these columns. I had no intention of starting metaphysical hares in this field, but merely to express my agreement with him in holding that physical discussions are also apt to have their hares unless we begin with definitions of our terms. His Very interesting letter brings this home from the side of the contrast between the physicist of forty years ago with his assumption of “a vast independent universe of concrete machinery, unthinkingly and unconsciously accepted as his universe of discourse”, and the scientific worker of to-day, who finds his universe of discourse in “a phenomenal universe as apprehended by his brain”. Though I should perhaps use other terms for the latter, I think that this well describes the change in the intellectual atmosphere brought about by recent developments in physics, to which I began by alluding in my former letter. The “vast independent universe of concrete machinery” had not only established itself in the mind of the physicist of those days as independent, but also it was endangering the independence of all other universes by reducing them to appanages of itself, as the only reality, containing the “promise and potency” of all other forms of existence.

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