50, 100 and 150 Years Ago; February 2008; Scientific American Magazine; by Daniel C. Schlenoff; 1 Page(s)
SPLITTING ATOMS--"In January, 1939, we published an account of 'experiments that are at variance with all previous experiences in nuclear physics.' In interpreting the experiments we expressed ourselves very cautiously, partly because the series of tests had not yet been quite finished--they took several weeks. But our caution was not due to any mistrust of our results. Indeed, we already had a strong check of our conclusion, for we had identified a decay product of one of our 'radium' isotopes as lanthanum, which meant that the parent had to be not radium but barium. Our overcautiousness stemmed primarily from the fact that, as chemists, we hesitated to announce a revolutionary discovery in physics. Nevertheless, we did speak of the 'bursting' of uranium, as we called the surprising process that had yielded barium, far down in the periodic table. --Otto Hahn"
CHAOS--"What U.S. universities need most is 'some peace and quiet and order,' according to J. C. Warner, president of the Carnegie Institute of Technology. In an article published last month, he said that Government emphasis on applied research has so disorganized university work that many scientists are 'living a life of intellectual chaos.' Their energies have been channeled away from teaching and creative research and often are dissipated in administrative work. Many scientists, he added, have become restless, 'to spend a semester or a year abroad, or in another institution ... or on a glamorous missile or satellite project.'"