1930-08-31: Shaking Science's Foundations

Submitted by esaruoho on

New York Times, August 31, 1930, Sunday
Section: Educational, Page E2, 1866 words

To the Editor of The New York Times:
 Several of my contemporaries in the electrical field seem to be particularly incensed because of a statement made by Walter Russell in The Times that "all modern theories of atomic structure have no more relation to nature than green cheese."
 Their rancor is based upon the fact that great scientists, such as Milliken, Bohr, Rutherford, Langmuir and others of great prominence have proved their theories by experiment, and Russell, who seems to have obtained most of his knowledge by close observation of nature rather than in the laboratory, tells these men that their conclusions are wrong because their fundamental premises are wrong.
 Personally I find it hard to accept Bohr's "jumping electron", as Russell calls it, and I find many others equally skeptical. John Langdon Davies in his recent book, "Man and His Universe," criticized this belief severely, ending as follows: "Now, if scientists seems to believe these two things are true, it means that the universe is essentially meaningless."
 Russell claims that all conclusions of scientists in regard to things electric are based upon the assumption that all masses are "charged" either positively or negatively. This, he says, is fundamentally wrong, for all masses are doubly charged, each one being preponderantly one or the other just as male and female are known to be so.
 Russell has set up such a very strong and convincing argument in support of his claim that my traditional electrical training is severely shaken even if I am not a 100 per cent convert as yet.
 If, however, Russell succeeds in establishing this one claim alone he will have shaken the very foundations of science, for every textbook on electrical practice, physics and astronomy will have to be rewritten and another mass of mathematical formulae will have to be relegated to the waste basket to keep company with much that has gone that way before.
New York, Aug. 27, 1930.