Research Article | Published:

The Electron: Its Intellectual And Social Significance

Nature volume 139, pages 229240 (06 February 1937) | Download Citation



WITHIN the past five years, centenaries, bicentenaries and tercentenaries have been much in vogue. Every town or institution or event which has claim to distinction has sought the excuse of the calendar to remind the world of its claims to greatness. Thus we have recently celebrated the centenary of Faraday's discovery of the principles of electromagnetism and the bicentenary of Watt's invention of the steam engine discoveries which have introduced the eras of electricity and of mechanical power. The city of Chicago has sought to tell us that the progress of mankind really began with the founding of that community, and has led us to spend millions of dollars to gain the impression that there is really some causal relationship between Chicago and world progress. In my part of the country, the city of Boston and its suburbs staged a succession of tercentenary celebrations, as proud of their past as Chicago is of its present. Greatest of all was last summer's tercentenary celebration of Harvard University, signalizing the firm basis of intellectual freedom and leadership which is the prime requisite for a free people in a democracy.

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  1. President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    • Karl T. Compton


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