From Canada with Love
Truth versus Guns
exploration by Rolf A. F. Witzsche - May 2006



- THE DISCOVERY OF RADIOACTIVITY AND -
- THE TRANSMUTATION OF THE ELEMENTS -

by Larry Hecht
May 12, 2006

[Figures available at www.wlym.com/~bruce/radioactive.zip]

 
The discovery of radioactivity and its properties in the
period from 1896-1903 created a crisis in physical chemistry. The
phenomena seemed to challenge several fundamental axioms of
science. These were (1) Carnot's principle describing the
relationship of heat and work, and (2) the principle which had
guided all chemical investigations since Lavoisier that no new
element was created or destroyed in a chemical transformation--a
principle sometimes known as the indestructibility of matter. In
the usual textbook approach, these paradoxes are passed over
quickly, and the problems "solved" by the modern theory of
radioactive decay and nuclear transformation. It is much more fun
to look at the real papers from the period, to puzzle over the
mystery, and work through the process of hypothesis formation and
experiment by which the paradoxes are resolved. That is the only
way to get any real understanding of what nuclear science is
about. Here we will try to summarize some of the basic material
which is to be mastered.


In the French scientific journal {Comptes Rendus} of
December 1898, a note co-authored by Pierre and Marie Curie, and
G. Bemont describes the properties of a new and strongly
radioactive substance extracted from the ore of pitchblende. The
new substance possessed many analogous properties to barium, and
the team had made considerable effort to be sure it was not some
unique form of the element barium. They called this new substance
{radium.} In an earlier note the same year, this team of
collaborators had described another radioactive substance
separated from the same ore, this one sharing similar properties
with the metal bismuth. They called it {polonium.} [fn 1]
"Radioactivity" had been discovered just two years earlier
by Henri Becquerel. The curious emissions from uranium ore which
he discovered, while looking for something else, were first
called Becquerel rays. Marie Curie first used the term
"radioactivity" in 1898 when she discovered that minerals
containing the element thorium also showed these properties.
Becquerel had been studying phosphorescence, a property of
certain materials which glow in the dark after exposure to light.
He had been curious if the phenomena of phosphorescence might in
some way be related to the peculiar x-rays which had just been
discovered in 1895. As these curious things come up again in our
story we will pause here to briefly explain them. X-rays were
first discovered in a simple apparatus called a Geissler or
cathode ray tube. A tube of glass is formed with a metal
electrode inserted into each end. The air in the tube is pumped
out by a vaccum pump, until only a small amount remains inside;
or, other gases are introduced in very small amounts. When a
voltage is applied across the electrodes, the interior of the
tube begins to glow, its color dependendent on the gas contained.
The neon lights in signs are a familiar example of such a device.
The behavior of gases in apparatus such as these had been under
study since the 1840s by Auguste de la Rive, a collaborator of
Ampere. Studies of the tubes were made in Germany in the 1850s,
and they received the name Geissler tubes after the Bonn
instrument maker Johann Geissler. The alternate name of cathode
ray tube, came about after Eugen Goldstein discovered in 1876
that a faint ray could be seen propagating from the negative
electrode (cathode) to the positive anode. With a high voltage,
it was noticed that the glass of the tube also develops a glow.
Experimenting with such devices in 1895, Wilhelm Conrad
Roentgen observed something really unusual. A faint green light
which developed at the wall of his tube was passing through
nearby materials, including paper, a book, and some wood. As he
tried putting other materials in front of the tube, he saw the
bones of his hand projected on the wall! He described the
phenomenon in a paper in 1896 calling them "Radiation X," or
X-rays. They are also known as Roentgen-rays.

- Radioactivity -


Reports of this exciting discovery spread quickly, and
Becquerel wondered if the phenomenon of phosphorescence he was
investigating might be related to this radiation X. One of his
experiments had been to place each of the mineral samples which
showed phosphorescence over a photographic plate wrapped in black
paper and left in the dark. All results were negative, until he
tried minerals containing the element uranium. (The element
uranium had been discovered by Martin Klaproth in 1789 in ores
containing the mineral pitchblende; at the time it was primarily
used as an additive in the glassmaking process for giving color
to glass.) Becquerel's uranium samples caused the photographic
plate to darken. The darkening occurred even if the uranium had
not been previously exposed to light, so it was clear the
phenomenon was not due to phosphorescence. The radiation was
passing through black paper and exposing the photographic plate.
Perhaps it was the radiation X?


Pierre and Marie Curie soon began experiments with samples
of uranium ore, most of them obtained from mines in Bohemia, then
part of Austria. While still supposing that the effect might be
due to the radiation X, their work led to the discovery of a very
important anomaly. The work began with the creation of a device
for measuring the activity of the sample more accurately than
could be done with a photographic plate. It had been found that
these substances had the property of making the air around them
conductive. To measure how much, the sample was ground into a
powder and placed on the lower of two parallel metal plates (B).
(See Figure 1). This plate was attached to a set of batteries
producing a potential usually around 50 or 100 volts. The upper
plate (A) was attached through a switch to ground. A radioactive
substance would cause the air to become conductive allowing a
current to flow through plate A to ground, when the switch was
closed. When the switch was opened, the upper plate developed a
charge whose value could be determined by the electrometer (E in
the figure). The quantity of charge produced was considered a
measure of the radioactivity of the substance. A device developed
by Pierre Curie from his studies of the piezoelectric properties
of crystals, the quartz piezoelectric balance, greatly improved
the accuracy of the electrometer. (See Denise Ham article in
{21st Century,} Winter 2002.)


Being accomplished chemists, the Curies tried experiments to
remove the uranium from the pitchblende ore. By subjecting
samples of the ore to acid, they could cause much of the uranium
to precipitate out as a salt. When these samples of ore with much
of the uranium removed were placed in the measuring device a
remarkable thing happened. They showed more radioactivity than
the ore samples containing uranium. The Curies then isolated pure
uranium metal from the ore and compared its activity. The ore
samples they had from several Austrian mines showed a
radioactivity three to four times greater than the pure uranium.
They became convinced that a new element, many times more active
than uranium, must be present in the ore. They began a process of
chemical separatiom. Aided by theri precision device for
measuring radioactivity, they were able to separate out the
portions of the ore which showed greater radioactivity. By June
1898, they had separated a substance with 300 times the
radioactivity of uranium. They supposed they had found a new
element which they named {polonium,} after Marie Sklodowska
Curie's embattled Poland. There was still some doubt as to
whether it was an element. It had not been isolated yet, but
always appeared with the already known element bismuth.
By December of 1898, the Curies had separated another
product from the Bohemian ores which showed strong radioactive
properties. This one appeared in combination with the known
element barium, and behaved chemically much like barium. Again it
had not been isolated in a pure form, and there was uncertainty
as to whether it was a distinct element. Spectral analysis showed
mostly the spectral lines characteristic of barium, but their
friend, the skilled spectroscopist Demarcay, had detected a very
faint indication of another line not seen before. [fn. 2] On the
basis of the chemical and spectral evidence and the power of its
radioactivity, the Curies supposed it to be a new element, which
fit in the empty space in the second column (Group II) of
Mendeleyev's periodic table, below barium. They named it
{radium.}


The Curies now dedicated themselves to obtaining pure
samples of these new elements. It took four years of dedicated
labor, working heroically under extremely difficult conditions to
isolate the first sample of pure radium. Polonium proved more
difficult. While they were engaged in this effort, research was
under way in other locations, sparked by the earlier papers of
Becquerel and the Curies announcement of two new radioactive
elements.


One of the most important lines of development led to the
discovery that there was more than one type of radiation coming
from the radioactive substances. Becquerel had already reported
from his early experiments with uranium that he suspected this to
be the case. In 1898 Ernest Rutherford, a young New Zealander
working at the Cavendish Laboratory in England, used an apparatus
based on the Curie's radiation detector to examine the radiation
from uranium in a slightly different way. He placed powdered
uranium compounds on the lower metallic plate of the Curie
apparatus described above, and covered it with layers of aluminum
or other metal foils. It was found that most of the radiation as
measured by the charge collected on the upper plate was stopped
by a single thin layer of foil. But some of it got through and
was only stopped after a considerable number of layers had been
added. The conclusion, already suggested by earlier work of
Becquerel, was that there were at least two different types of
radiation, to which Rutherford gave the name {alpha rays} for the
less penetrating, and {beta rays} for those which were stoped
only by more layers of foil.


In 1899, three different groups of experimenters (Becquerel
in France, Stefan Meyer and E. von Sweidler, and Friedrich Giesel
in Germany) found that the radioactive radiations could be
deflected by a magnetic field. A sample of the substance was
placed in a lead container with a narrow mouth, so that radiation
could only escape in one direction. The container was placed
between the poles of a powerful electromagnet, and it was found
that the emerging radiation was curving in the same direction as
had been observed with the cathode rays mentioned above (Figure3).
It had been recently demonstrated that these cathode rays
were electrical particles of negative charge, to which G.
Johnstone Stoney had given the name {electron.} Thus, it was
supposed that radioactive subtances were probably giving off
electrons.


More careful experiments by Pierre and Marie Curie in 1900,
showed that only a part of the radiation was deflected by the
magnet. Marie Curie then showed that the undeflected part of the
radiation had a lesser penetrating power. It was thus likely that
the rays which behaved like electrons were what Rutherford had
named beta radiation, and the other part the so-called alpha
radiation. It was to take a few more years before these were
identified. Under a stronger magnetic field, these more massive
alpha particles could be deflected by a smaller amount in the
opposite direction of the beta rays, indicating that they were
more massive and positively charged.


A laboratory anecdote recounted by Marie Curie in her
doctoral thesis provides a striking illustration of the identity
of the radiation from radium with electricity. In preparation for
opening a sealed glass vial containing a solution of radium salt,
Pierre scored a circle around the glass vial with a glass cutter.
He immediately recieved a considerable shock. The sharp edge made
by the glass cutter had permitted the sudden discharging of the
electrical charge accumulated on the container, according to a
simple principle which readers of Benjamin Franklin's writings on
the lightning rod will recognize. [fn. 3]

- Induced Radioactivity and Transmutation -


One other paradoxical phenomena first observed by the Curies
is important to the next step in the understanding of
radioactivity. In their work with radium, the Curies had noted
that every substance which remains for a time in the vicinity of
a radium salt (usually radium chloride) became radioactive. The
radioactivity disappeared some time after the substance was
removed from the presence of the radium. They called this new
phenomenon {induced radioactivity.} Careful studies of the rate
of decay of the radioactivity showed that it declined according
to an asymptotic law. The effect was independent of the substance
put in the vicinity of the radium; glass, paper and metals all
acquired the same degree of induced radioactivity. The induced
radioactivity was greater in closed spaces, and could even be
communicated to a substance through narrow capillary tubes. The
air or other gas surrounding the radium was found to be
radioactive, and if captured and isolated it would remain active
for some time.


Many things suggested that the induced radioactivity might
be due to a new gaseous element. But the Curies carried out
spectral analysis of the gas found around radium, and found no
evidence of the presence of a new element.


A peculiar experiment carried out in 1900 by a very peculiar
English scientist, Sir William Crookes, set the stage for the
next big step in the understanding of radioactivity. Crookes
added ammounium carbonate to a solution of uranium nitrate in
water, causing a precipitate to form and to redissolve leaving a
small quantity of a residue which resembled a tuft of wool. He
found the residue to be very radioactive, as determined by its
effect on a photographic plate, while the remaining solution was
virtually inactive. Crookes concluded that this new substance,
which he gave the name uranium X, was the radioactive component
of uranium, and that Becquerel and the Curies were mistaken in
supposing that radiactivity was an inherent property of the
element uranium.


Becquerel tried a similar experiment, precipitating barium
sulfate from a solution of uranium. He found that the barium
sulfate precipitate was radioactive, while the solution, which
still contained all of the uranium was not. However, he could not
accept Crookes' conclusion, arguing that "the fact that the
radioactivity of a given salt of uranium obtained commercially,
is the same, irrespective of the source of the metal, or of the
treatment it has previously undergone, makes the hypothesis not
very probable. Since the radioactivty can be decreased it must be
concluded that in time the salts of uranium recover their
activity." [fn 4]


To prove his supposition that the uranium would recover its
activity, Becquerel set aside some of the inactive uranium
solution and its radioactive barium sulfate precipitate for a
period of 18 months. Late in 1901, he found that the uranium had
completely regained its activity, whereas the barium sulfate
precipitate had become completely inactive. Becquerel wrote:
"The loss of activity ... shows that the barium has not
removed the essentially active and permanent part of the uranium.
This fact constitutes, then, a strong presumption in favor of the
existence of an activity peculiar to uranium, although it is not
proved that the metal be not intimately united with another very
active product." [fn 5]


Relocated to McGill University in Montreal, Ernest
Rutherford, working with the young Oxford chemist Frederick
Soddy, took the next crucial step in resolving the paradox.
Instead of uranium X, they created a radioactive residue from a
precipitate of thorium which they called thorium X. Like Crookes'
uranium X, the residue showed all the radioacitivity, whereas the
thorium which remained in solution appeared inactive. But the
activity of the substances was such that after only a few days
they observed what Becquerel had seen after 18 months. The
thorium X lost some of its radioactivity, while the thorium from
which it had been obtained, which was kept a considerable
distance away, regained some its activity. A quantititave study
of the rate of decay and recovery of the activity by the two
substances showed that the rates of decay and recovery were the
same, about one month. The famous chart depicting their relative
activity is pictured in Figure 4 (see link). Rutherford and Soddy
repeated the observations using uranium X, and found the same effect
occurring over a longer time span, about six months.
These observations were considered together with the
anomalous phenomenon of induced radioactivity discovered by the
Curies. Rutherford had carried out his own investigations and
concluded in 1900 that the induced radioactivity was due to a
radioactive gas, which he called an emanation. The work with
thorium X showed evidence of an emanation, which we know today as
the radioactive gas radon.


Rutherford and Soddy now drew a radical conclusion from
these results. They posited that the atoms of the radioactive
elements were undergoing a spontaneous disintegration. By the
emission of an alpha or beta particle they were changing to form
a new element, and they posited that this process continues in a
series, at a different rate for each step. They summarized the
viewpoint in the introduction to their first paper on the
subject, in 1902:


"Radioactivity is shown to be accompanied by chemical
changes in which new types of matter are being continuously
produced. These reaction products are at first radioactive, the
activity dinminishing regularly from the moment of formation.
Their continuous production maintains the radioactivity of the
matter producing them at a definite equilibrium-value. The
conclusion is drawn that these chemical changes must be
sub-atomic in character." [fn 6]


As later developments were to show, Rutherford and Soddy
were fully correct in their general statements, even if some of
the details required further elaboration. It could be argued, as
the Curies and Becquerel did, that there was not sufficient
evidence to support the hypothesis with certainty when put
forward in 1902. I am not sure at what point they became fully
convinced. In 1903, when the Curies and Henri Becquerel gave
their Nobel prize acceptance speeches, they were still cautious
about the Rutherford-Soddy hypothesis. One reason for the caution
was that chemistry since the time of Lavoisier had relied on the
assumption of the stability of the elements. Transmutation was
associated with the unscientific practices of alchemy. An
assumption underlying all of Lavoisier's experiments was that in
the course of a chemical reaction, the weight and elemental
identity of the products would not change. Mendeleyev underlined
this point in the preface to the Seventh Russian edition of his
textbook Principles of Chemistry, written in St. Petersburg in
November 1902. By the dating, one suspects that Mendeleyev may
have been adding his voice to the skepticism concerning the
Rutherford-Soddy hypothesis. [fn 7]


Today it is well understood that the radioactive elements
uranium, thorium, and plutonium pass through a decay series by
which they are transformed successively down the periodic table
until arriving at a stable form of lead (atomic number 82). There
are four known decay series, that of uranium-238, uranium-235,
throrium, and plutonium. Without any interference by man, all of
the elements above lead are continuously undergoing such
transmutation in the Earth. Elements such as radium, polonium and
radon are steps on this path, appearing temporarily and then
decaying to pass over on to other elements.


In 1903 Soddy with Willam Ramsay established the identity of
the alpha particle with helium. Later the alpha particle was
understood to be the ionized (positively charged) nucleus of
helium with its two electrons stripped off. As we understand it
today, when an element emits an alpha particle it is transformed
two steps down the periodic table. But before this could be fully
grasped, two important new concepts had to emerge: the notion of
atomic number, which describes the number of positive charges or
protons in the nucleus, and the existence of isotopes--nuclei of
the same charge but different atomic weights. These conceptions,
along with the picture of the atom as consisting of a compact,
positively charged nucleus surrounded by distant electrons,
emerged in the period about 1909-1913. With the addition of one
more conception, the neutron, which was first proposed in the
early 1920s by Robert J. Moon's teacher, William Draper Harkins,
and experimentally established in 1932 by Chadwick, it became
posible to explain the radioactive decay series with precision.
So, for example, when the abundant isotope of uranium,
U-238, emits an alpha particle, it transmutes two atomic numbers
down to become 90-thorium-234. Now, thorium-234 is a beta
emitter. We view the beta emission as resulting from the decay of
a neutron in the nucleus. Harkins first conceived the neutron as
an electron condensed on a proton. (When it was detected
experimentally, the neutron was found to be a neutral particle
with a mass almost exactly equal to the sum of the masses of the
electron and proton.) When it decays, the neutron throws off the
very light electron and leaves the more massive proton behind,
increasing the charge of the nucleus by plus one. Thus beta decay
causes the atomic number to increase by one, without increasing
the atomic weight. 90-thorium-234 becomes 91-protactinium-234.
This is also a beta emitter which thus decays to 92-uranium-234.
(Notice that we have gone two steps down and two steps back up,
but we are at a much lighter isotope of uranium. From here the
U-234 emits an alpha particle to become 90-thorium-230. This
emits an alpha particle to become 88-radium-226, which emits an
alpha particle to become 86-radon-222 (see Figure 5a - link above,
and Figure 5b).


To add to the fun, each of these decay products has its own
rate of decay which is measured as a half-life, the time it takes
for one half the mass of the substance to disappear. For some
substances in the decay chain, this is quite fast--3.82 days for
radon-222, for example, and 0.00016 seconds for polonium-214.
Others give off their radiation at a much slower
rate--uranium-238, for example, takes 4.5 billion years to lose
half its mass. When Becquerel, the Curies, and the other early
experimenters were detecting the radioactivity of uranium, for
example, most of the emissions they detected were not from the
uranium, but rather from the decay products mixed in with the
uranium. Crookes's creation of uranium-X was thus actually the
chemical separation of the decay product, thorium-234, from the
uranium. As the half-life of thorium-234 is just 24.1 days, it
was emitting radiation millions of times faster than the uranium.
Actually the uranium itself was a mixture of the slow decaying
U-238 (4.5 billion years), U-235 (half life = 713 million years),
and the decay product, U-234 (half life = 248,000 years).
This is why the uranium-X sample at first showed such a high
activity, while the remaining uranium seemed inactive. Over time,
the uranium-X lost its activity by decay, while the mixture of
uranium isotopes slowly built back up their decay products, thus
increasing the measurable activity of that portion. It was not
the uranium emission that was increasing, but the emission from
its faster decaying products. The radon gas which was also a part
of the decay chain was what Rutherford had called the
{emanation.} Part of the difficulty of detecting it was its short
half-life. Rutherford's thorium-X, was what is now known as
radium-224. It decays with a half-life of 3.64 days, by alpha
particle emission, to Radon-220, the emanation.


By extrapolating the rate of decay of natural uranium, we
can determine that about 4.5 billion years ago there was twice
the amount of uranium-238 in the Earth as today. Half of it has
undergone a transmutation in that time span, which is thought to
be about equal to the age of the Earth. Radium, polonium, radon
gas, and the other elements above lead on the periodic table, are
all temporary appearances on their way to becoming something
else. It is not out of the question that all the 92 elements are
undergoing natural transmutation, and that those we call stable
are simply decaying on a time scale longer than we have been able
to observe. In any case, by artificial means, such as collision
with a charged particle from an accelerator, and with enough
expenditure of energy, we can today transmute virtually any
element into any other. The alchemists' dream of transmuting base
metals into gold is thus acheivable, and has been demonstrated in
the laboratory. This however can be only be accomplished in very
small amounts, and at a high cost, so that even with Weimar rates
of hyperinflation, laboratory transmutatiion is not presently a
viable means of producing the metals we need.
So we see, that even this non-living domain within the
biosphere is not quite dead either. It is undergoing constant
change of a very radical sort. Even the stable elements, whether
or not they ever change their identity, are in a state of
constant and very rapid internal motion and, as I believe, of
continuous and very rapid re-creation on a nonlinear time scale.


- Notes -

1. {Comptes Rendus,} vol. 127, pp. 1215-1217 (1898)
http://web.lemoyne.edu~GIUNTA/curiesra.html

The earlier discovery of polonium is described in {Comptes
Rendus,} vol. 127, pp. 175-178,
http://web.lemoyne.edu~GIUNTA/curiespo.html


2. We shall have more to do with spectroscopy later. Upon
heating, each chemical element shows a characteristic color. Most
people have seen the green color produced in a flame by a
copper-bottomed pot. If the light produced when the element is
heated be passed through a prism, it is dispersed into a band of
color, just as sunlight passing through a prism forms a rainbow.
Within the colorful band, known as a spectrum, certain sharp and
diffuse lines appear. Bunsen and Kirchoff began work in 1858
which established a means for identifying each element by its
flame spectrum (Figure 2).


3. We mention in passing one other anomaly associated with
the discovery of radium: its production of light and heat with no
apparent source for the energy. We will have more to say on this
in coming installments.

In the 1898 paper cited above, Curie, Curie and Bemont
noted:

"The rays emitted by the compounds of polonium and radium
make barium platinocyande flouorescent. Their action from this
point of view is analogous to that of Roentgen rays [x-rays], but
considerably weaker. To make the experiment, one places on the
active substance a very thin leaf of aluminum, upon which a thin
film of barium platinocyanide is spread; in the dark the
platinocyanide appears weakly luminous in front of the active
substance."

This property of the radioactive substances of producing
light (and, it was later noted, considerable heat) without any
apparent source of energy was quite paradoxical and caused the
team to note at the end of the second paper of 1898:
"Thus one constructs a source of light, a very weak one to
tell the truth, but one that functions without a source of
energy. There is a contradiction, or an apparent one at the very
least, with Carnot's principle."

Later in her 1903 doctoral thesis, Curie noted that samples
of radium are also much warmer than the surrounding air.
Calorimetric measurements were able to quantify the heat
produced.

Sadi Carnot's principle, derived from his study of steam
engines, stated that the work gained by use of steam depended
upon the difference in the heat of the steam coming from the
boiler, and the heat of the water vapor after it had done its
work in expanding against a piston. Work could only be gained by
transfer from a warmer to a colder body. This is the beautifully
adduced principle of the operation of heat engines, which Rudolf
Clausius attempted to make into a universal principle of
amorality by arguing that all processes progress to a state of
increasing disorder ("entropy strives toward a maximum.")
What was the source of power for the light and heat produced
by these radioactive substances? In noting the apparent
contradiction with Carnot's principle, Marie Curie, the probable
author of the jointly signed note, had put her finger on a new
principle of power. It was to take another several decades, and
the work of many teams of investigators to begin to unravel the
puzzle. The answer in short, was the existence of a new domain
within the microcosm, the atomic nucleus, in which processes of
enormously greater raw power than could be observed on the
macroscopic or chemical scale took place.


4. cited in Samuel Glasstone, {Sourcebook on Atomic Energy,}
(Princeton: Van Nostrand, 1958) p. 121]


5. cited in Glasstone, op cit, p.121


6. Rutherford and Soddy, Philosophical Magazine, 4 (1902),
370-396, and web.lemoyne.edu/~giunta/ruthsod.html


7. I have examined the circumstances surrounding the
Rutherford-Soddy paper with some care. The question on my mind
was how, given the evident epistemological weakness of the
British school, so much of the progress in atomic science during
several decades beginning about 1900 could have taken place
there. A subsidiary question was how Rutherford, who by the 1920s
had become such an obstacle to new ideas in atomic theory,
according to the testimony of Dr. Moon and his teacher Harkins,
should have taken such a bold step in 1902. I found it useful to
think of the question in two aspects, both of which are clarified
by examining it in the historical context.

First, at the time of Rutherford's discovery, the British
were carrying out a buildup for world war, and feared the German
pre-eminence in science. For a brief window of time, a general
unleashing of scientific progress was permitted. Rutherford and
Soddy were both outsiders in the British class system, the one a
colonial, and the other the son of a shopkeeper, permitted to
carry out their work in the outpost of Montreal. Later, by the
1920s and after the great war, Rutherford had become a part of
the insider establishment, which was already asserting a kind of
non-proliferation doctrine. H.G. Wells's adoption of Soddy's
work, as in his popularization of an ultimate weapon to control
populations by one-world government ("The World Set Free," 1914),
exemplifies this general aspect of the problem. The later
achievement of nuclear fission put nuclear science even more
tightly under the control of a military-industrial elite of
Wellsian predilection well known to us.

Second is the unfortunate fact that the hegemony of British
empiricism, dating approximately to the death of Leibniz, has
meant that progress in science has been forced to proceed largely
through the resolution of experimental paradox, without benefit
of the superior method of metaphysics--as Leibniz called it. We
know some very few but notable exceptions, among which Riemann
stands out. Otherwise, the better scientists have developed a use
of the creative method, as if by instinct, drawn from cultural
traditions which are not necessarily evident to them. The general
demoralization which followed the First World War tended to wipe
out much of the epistemological advantage which had remained in
some German and French scientific practice from the respective
Kepler-Leibniz and Ecole Polytechnique traditions. A figure such
as Dr. Moon represented a countercultural trend, in the good
sense of the word, embodying in his deepest moral-philosophical
outlook the better aspects of the American Leibnizian tradition,
even where that might not be explicitly enunciated. Moon's
creative reaction to LaRouche and Kepler in his 1986 formulation
of his nuclear space-time hypothesis conclusively demonstrate
that point.