The Renaissance of Physics

The Renaissance of Physics

The Renaissance of Physics

The Renaissance of Physics

Excerpt

In the partition of Nature among the sciences, electricity, atoms, and light have been assigned in major part to physics. This science has a strange position in the modern world. Ever since the turn of the century it has been enjoying a veritable renaissance, fairly to be likened with that splendid flowering of the arts and humane letters four hundred years ago to which the name of Renaissance was first applied. In this contemporary age when the artists in so many fields are overshadowed by the work of masters long since dead, the physicist has had the glorious good fortune of sharing in a spirit, an ambition, a sense of novelty and limitless opportunity, such as (we are told) inspired the Elizabethans. Not for him the despondent yearning for great creative periods of the past, for the golden days when Phidias was carving, Rembrandt painting, Shakespeare writing plays, or Beethoven making music! his science is even now in such a time. Many of its heroes are still living and still young, many more are vividly remembered by the living; and of the rest, all but a few have lived within the last two centuries.

Moreover, little as physicists may be known to the world at large, their achievements are not the exclusive concern of an elite, remote from general human interest. No words indeed can overstate the influence of physics on the modern world. Christopher Wren was . . .

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