Men of Science in America: The Role of Science in the Growth of Our Country

Men of Science in America: The Role of Science in the Growth of Our Country

Men of Science in America: The Role of Science in the Growth of Our Country

Men of Science in America: The Role of Science in the Growth of Our Country

Excerpt

The incentive which led to this project was twofold. First, there is the general lack of knowledge of the American public about the lives and achievements of our own men of science. This ignorance pervades even the ranks of professional scientists, teachers of science, and students of American history. Historians of the United States have, with glaring uniformity, underestimated the importance of these men to the development of our country. The teaching of key events in the political and economic history of America has been the standard mental diet in our schools for generations. Crucial events in the history of our scientific progress have been almost completely ignored. Little has been taught of the stirring revolutions in human thought which have resulted from scientific advance.

Secondly, no full-bodied attempt has been made by historians of science or biographers of American scientists to paint a complete picture of the growth of science in the United States, especially as it modified the development of our social structure or as the rise of America influenced the kind of science which flourished here. This, too, is a serious omission, for science is an activity and not simply a body of facts. Just as the literature and art of a country are an inseparable part of its history, so a scientific advance may change the course of its destiny. A nation faces a problem which science attacks and solves, and the way of life of millions of people is thereby significantly altered.

Several reasons present themselves for this neglect of so important a phase of the American story. Most writers of the history of the United States have had little training in the sciences and have not, therefore, been equipped for such a task. Other historians have dismissed the problem as one of no great consequence . . .

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