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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 8 July, 3, 1946

Ivory Towers Shattered

Ivory Towers Shattered

The explosion of the Atomic Bomb, perhaps the most important event in recorded history, has shown the fallacy of this attitude. By their lack of organisation, and failure to realise the consequences of their actions, the physicists handed over to military and state power' a weapon of incalculable effect, before they had evaluated the social problems which must inevitably arise. The vital opportunity was missed and they can now only act as advisors to the real controllers of the bomb. Not only this, but by their individualism they have allowed the mantle of secrecy to be spread over large fields of research. Whatever may have been necessary in the exigencies of war scientists are unanimous that secrecy in fundamental research is absolutely fatal, except in the most exceptional circumstances. Yet it is probably correct to say that the present official attitude to the publication of scientific work in certain fields approximates closely to that of Nazi Germany, where fundamental research rapidly declined. The brutal sentence on Dr. Nunn May, which has shocked the scientific world, is a pointer to the dangers which beset the scientist if we persist in narrow individualism.