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Scientific Workers and the War

Nature volume 145, pages 6162 (13 January 1940) | Download Citation



A SYMPOSIUM, organized by the Faculty of Science of Marx House, Clerkenwell Green, London, E.C.1, was held during the week-end of December 30–31, the title of the meeting being "The Position of Science and Scientists in the War Situation". No adequate assessment of the effect of the war is possible without some knowledge of the economic background, and this was afforded by Maurice Dobb in a paper entitled "The Economics of War Capitalism". It was with this background that the meeting held a discussion on the effects of the war on university research and education, opened by Prof. H. Levy. It was argued that the cost of the social services would be cut, and in this respect, the maintenance of the universities on the present scale would be regarded as an unnecessary luxury, with adverse effects on staff, students, and standards of education. Mr. Roscoe Clarke, in discussing the scientific social services, showed that the incidence of the same problems has been felt in the medical services. The emergency medical schemes have cut right across the normal medical services, already dislocated by the evacuation of schoolchildren. Prof. J. D. Bernal, in the concluding paper, dealt with the status of the man of science. The historical role of science in the development of capitalism was analysed, and the effect of the functions of the scientific worker on his status discussed; at the present time, the existing system cannot use to the full the science it has itself brought into being.

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