Trends in Modern Physics


THE world-picture of the older generation was, as we look back on it to-day, extraordinarily simple. It is, or has been, the fashion to describe nineteenth-century science as materialistic. There certainly was Buchner, and there was Tyndall's Belfast address. But Dr. Stoffkraft had neither a long reign nor an influential following, and we shall be nearer to the truth if we look upon Victorian science as showing a simple realism the realism of the man in the street not wholly unrelated to that simple realism of to-day which sees in an alpha-ray track evidence for the existence of an atom, of the same order as that furnished by a diffraction photograph (or, for that matter, by our own eyes) for the existence of a star.


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Ferguson, A. Trends in Modern Physics. Nature 138, 785–789 (1936).

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