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Little need be said by way of summing-up. The primary and inescapable purpose of this book, which Part One attempts to fulfil, is to make known, to those with an indefeasible right to the knowledge, the present state of the scientific world as revealed by its practice, and to bring it into comparison with what is generally believed, and implicitly trusted, to be its state as typically expressed by the late Sir Henry Dale. I leave the reader to judge the significance of the comparison for him, and to estimate what the consequences are likely to be if the present degree of conformity continues. I have no doubt that my view of these things has emerged during the process - I should be ashamed if it had not - but I hope that it has not in any way interfered with the objectivity of the presentation, and will not influence the reader in forming his own independent judgement from the intrinsic nature of the facts themselves.
It is not I who state that high energy physicists in general have not the time or ability, and himself (who is one) not the inclination, to understand the principles underlying his work; who 'teach' what he does not understand to those who will undertake that work on the basis of what they are 'taught'; who will not submit for the consideration of others what he does not himself understand and agree with; and who will not commit himself to an assurance that integrity is still preserved among physicists; it is the (then) President of the Royal Society. It is not I who do not feel able to provide one sentence in answer to a question on a subject in which he is a specialist and on which depends the safety of the population: it is the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence. It is not I who state in private that he decides by gambling whether to take any notice of that question, and in public assure an audience of the fierce and uncompromising honesty of the scientific attitude: it is a Sectional President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. It is not I who close the columns of the leading scientific journal to informed questioning of the Royal Society on a matter of outstanding public importance; who interpose an impassable obstruction to the conclusive settlement of that matter; and who leave promise after promise unfulfilled to prevent such a settlement from being reached: it is the editor of Nature. It is not I who decide that the action of that editor in refusing to allow the Royal Society to be questioned by the public on a matter vital to the public interest is not a fit subject to be submitted to the Press Council: it is the officers of the Press Council itself. And so on. These are facts, not opinions. I alone have indisputable evidence of them, and I alone am therefore able, and have a compulsory obligation, to bring them to the notice of those whom they so deeply affect.
Nevertheless, since they all arise from matters in which I have been one of the parties concerned, I should like to add one piece of evidence - again for the uninfluenced judgement of the reader -which is altogether independent of my activities. On p. 200 quote a statement by J. G. Fox, an American physicist (from considerations whose validity is irrelevant to the present point) that 'the material considered as evidence in the past has been shown to be possibly either irrelevant or inconclusive. This is a surprising situation in which to find us half a century after the inception of special relativity.' Supposing Dale's description of science to be a true one, what should one conclude from this? Something, I suggest, on the following lines: 'This is an anomaly which science cannot neglect. Nature's answer to the point in question (which is one of the two foundation stones of the special relativity theory) must be sought immediately and, whatever it is, accepted, made known, and acted upon. In the meantime, dangerous experiments based only on evidence that is possibly irrelevant or inconclusive should be suspended.' In fact, Fox's conclusion was this:
The small gap [sic] in the experimental foundations of special relativity which has been pointed out in the foregoing is of far less interest now than it would have been a few decades ago...
Nevertheless if one balances the overwhelming odds against such an experiment yielding anything new against the overwhelming importance of the point to be tested, he may conclude that the experiment should be performed.
(The reference to 'the odds' as a factor in deciding whether to seek nature's answer to a question or to trust the infallibility of our own expectations is interestingly reminiscent of Ziman's gambling (p. 89), but let that pass).
I suggest that the reader who wishes to form a true idea of the present state of science in this field should formulate a description of science for himself, which is such that Fox's comment is as natural an inference from it as the one I proposed above follows from Dale's description. He will then see the two roads, which science is now facing and between which it must choose: shall it continue along Fox's road or return to Dale's? The question is not academic: on the answer will depend the moral contribution which science, in the position of authority which it has now acquired, shall in future make to civilisation, as well as the continuance of life on this planet.
In fairness to Fox I should add two things. First, he is the only supporter of the theory, so far as I know, who has had the temerity to suggest that Einstein's postulate is now even remotely open to question (as distinct from additional confirmation) at all, and he wrote a later paper going further into the matter, though (presumably in view of 'the odds') neither he nor anyone else has thought the experiment he proposed worth attempting during the last nine years. Secondly, he wished to get his paper published. His chance of that, if he ventured to make the comment that I suggest would naturally follow from Dale's view of science, may be assessed by the response of the American journal Science to my question (pp. 81-3).
Part Two is of secondary - though I believe still considerable -importance, but I should not have troubled to write it had not the necessity of Part One afforded an opportunity, if not issued a command, for it. I should have left it unsaid because I know its futility, since those to whom it should be of concern have lost the ability to read it. The eyes of a few of them might have passed along the lines, but the meaning could not have entered their minds because those minds are closed by an impenetrable barrier to any suggestion that special relativity is not irrefragable truth. It would at best have received the comment of me Royal Society referee (p. 57) that, although it contained matter of historical interest, anyone who took it seriously would make himself ridiculous. I have met none willing to face that indignity merely because he cannot find a fault in what he knows by supernatural revelation (though he would not call it such, yet would be at a loss to find an alternative name for its source) must nevertheless be faulty. Unless, therefore, the facts related in Part One should lead to the awakening of physicists of influence — either directly or through the compulsion of outside pressure - to an awareness of the state into which they have unconsciously lapsed, it will remain unheeded until the time comes when they will bitterly but vainly regret the lost opportunity of merely making themselves ridiculous.