Historical Reprints Science Daedalus or Science and the Future

Daedalus or Science and the Future

Daedalus or Science and the Future
Catalog # SKU1165
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name J. B. S. Haldane


Science and the Future

by J. B. S. Haldane

This TGS Reprint is a challenging essay on whether mankind will survive the Future of Science if all we do is direct it towards killing our fellow man and destroying civilizations and the planet. Will man correct his ways and direct the science towards the good of mankind? The essay reflects the inward struggle that man better heed, for his own good. Includes a brief description of the story/myth of Daedalus.


If we look at the other most probable alternative the prospect is little more hopeful. In this country the labor party alone among political organizations includes the fostering of research in its official program. Indeed as far as biological research is concerned labor may prove a better master than capitalism, and there can be little doubt that it would be equally friendly to physical and chemical research if these came to lead immediately to shortened hours rather than to unemployment. In particular there is perhaps reason to think that that form of sentimentalism which hampers medical research in this country by legislation would be less likely to flourish in a robust and selfish labor party of the Australian type than in parties whose members enjoy the leisure which seems necessary to the development of such emotional luxuries.

It is of course possible that civilization may collapse throughout the world as it has done in parts of Russia, and science with it, but such an event would, in all probability, only postpone the problem for a few thousand years. And even in Russia we must not forget that first-rate scientific research is still being carried on.

The possibility has been suggested -- I do not know how seriously -- that the progress of science may cease through lack of new problems for investigation. Mr. Chesterton in The Napoleon of Notting Hill, a book written fifteen years or so ago, prophesied that hansom-cabs would still be in existence a hundred years hence owing to a cessation of invention. Within six years there was a hansom-cab in a museum, and now that romantic but tardy vehicle is a memory like the trireme, the velocipede, and the 1907 Voisin biplane. I do not suggest that Mr. Chesterton be dragged -- a heavier Hector -- behind the last hansom cab, but I do contend that, in so far as he claims to be a prophet rather than the voice of one crying in the wilderness, he may be regarded as negligible for the purposes of our discussion. I shall try shortly to show how far from complete are any branches of science at the present time.

But first a word on Mr. H. G. Wells might not be out of place. The very mention of the future suggests him. There are two points I wish to make about Mr. Wells. In the first place, considered as a serious prophet, as opposed to a fantastic romancer, he is singularly modest. In 1902, for example, in a book called "Anticipations," he gave it as his personal opinion that by 1950 there would be heavier than air flying machines capable of practical use in war. That, he said, was his own view, though he was well aware that it would excite considerable ridicule.

I propose in this paper to make no prophecies rasher than the above .

The second and more important point is that he is a generation behind the time. When his scientific ideas were formed, flying and radio-telegraphy, for example, were scientific problems, and the centre of scientific interest still lay in physics and chemistry. Now these are commercial problems, and I believe that the centre of scientific interest lies in biology. A generation hence it may be elsewhere, and the views expressed in this paper will appear as modest, conservative, and unimaginative as do many of those of Mr. Wells to-day.

I will only touch very briefly on the future of physics, as the subject is inevitably technical. At present physical theory is in a state of profound suspense. This is primarily due to Einstein -- the greatest Jew since Jesus. I have no doubt that Einstein's name will still be remembered and revered when Lloyd George, Foch, and William Hohenzollern share with Charlie Chaplin that ineluctable oblivion which awaits the uncreative mind. I trust that I may be excused if I trespass from the strict subject of my theme to add my quota to the rather numerous misstatements of Einstein's views which have appeared during the last few years.

Softbound, 5.5x8, 60+ pages


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