II -- SCIENCE LIGHTS THE TORCH

By ROBERT A. MILLIKAN

A HUNDRED THOUSAND years ago, or it may have been that number multiplied either by five or by a fifth, perhaps in China, as per Charles Lamb's whimsical tale, perhaps somewhere else, for no one knows either where nor when, roast pig was discovered -- otherwise stated, a use was found for fire, and in the moment of that discovery the age of the brute was gone and the age of man was born. For no savage has ever been found so low as to be entirely wanting in that knowledge, and no mere brute possesses even a trace of it. No wonder the poetic Greek wove the event into a beautiful heroic myth; no wonder that ever since then Prometheus's act of stealing fire for man from the chariot of the sun has symbolized the eternal quest of the spirit of man for knowledge, and no wonder that in world history fire worship has been the centre of more than one great religion.

The multiplying uses of fire seem during all time to have been a fairly sure index of the progress of civilization. As man successively used fire to signal to his tribe, to warm his body, to cook his food, to glaze his earthenware, to synthesize his bronze, to refine his gold, to extract his iron from its ore, and to temper his steel, he rose step by step from the state of the cave dweller to the state of the citizen of Athens or of Rome; and now, within the memory of men now living, the crowning step of all has been taken, a new use for fire has been found, a use which makes it the keystone in the arch of modern civilization and opens up glorious possibilities for the further age-long progress of mankind. Whether those possibilities are to be realized or not depends in large measure

-38-

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Toward Civilization
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • I- The New Age and the New Man 21
  • II- Science Lights the Torch 38
  • III- The Spirit of Invention in an Industrial Civilization 47
  • IV- Power 69
  • V- Transportation 98
  • VI- Communication 120
  • VII- Modern Industry and Management 137
  • VIII- Agriculture 159
  • IX- Engineering in Government 176
  • X- Art in the Market Place - The Industrial Arts in the Machine Age 196
  • XI- The Machine and Architecture 213
  • XII- Work and Leisure 232
  • III- Education and the New Age 253
  • XIV- Machine Industry and Idealism 273
  • XV- Spirit and Culture under the Machine 282
  • XVI- Summary- The Planning of Civilization 297
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