I've typed  the content of an article about Arthur H. Compton from the front page of the Sunday Chicago Tribune, the news of my birthday which was published on,  January 3, 1932. My birthdate was January 2, 1932.   I had never read horoscopes but I noticed this in the newspaper one day:

Getting it straight:   Astrology is that science and art which considers the synchronicity between planetary positions and mundane affairs, including human character and potential and which deals with the Jungian concept that everything born and done at this moment in time has the qualities of this particular moment of time. In truth, as Ralph Waldo Emerson purportedly proclaimed, "Astrology is astronomy brought down to Earth and applied to the affairs of man." Got it straight?"

The entire newspaper article:


Flaws detected in Material Formula

(The reference to 'material formula' is to Einstein's formula: energy equals mass times the speed of light squared: e=mc2

By Philip  Kinsley.   

Science has a New Year’s message of good news to present.  

It concerns the invisible worlds of cosmic rays and atoms but it gives a glimpse of a new golden age of humanity, a future in which man may become the master of his destiny, instead of the victim of an unreadable whimsical fate. New energy in the physical world knocks at this door and a practical understanding of that primary unity of the physical and the mental which looms up as the hinterland of the most searching experiments in the new physics. 

Prof Arthur Holly Compton, Ph D., Sc D., LL.D, professor of physics at the University of Chicago and a Nobel Prize winner of 1927 comes today as an interpreter of significant events in European and American Laboratories and as the projector of a new world survey which within the next two years is expected to give a more adequate picture of the structure and action of the universe. 


As a philosopher, finding his sanctions in principles discovered in scientific research of the last few years, he is ready now to touch this picture with new perspective and depth. His own experiments in electronic structure, wave lengths and the behavior of atoms have contributed much to the view now held by an important group of younger scientists in England, Germany and America, that strict physical causality, or determinism, must be dropped out of the explanation of the action of atoms, and therefore out of the human mind.  

It is no longer necessary from a scientific standpoint, Prof. Compton, believes, to consider this universe as a place of chaos and night, with mankind sailing aimlessly along desolate shores and perilous seas, with certain doom ahead. It is, on the contrary, permissible, on this same basis of science, to postulate a fundamental unity, and order and to think of all living and perhaps nonliving things as well, as (being) controlled by something approaching consciousness, something greater than the individual. 

This  of course may be further interpreted as a new basis for religion, a new way of looking at an old thing, but Prof. Compton does not flinch at that. He would however substitute understanding for faith.  

“That nonphysical factors may determine the actions of atoms is quite in the air today.”, was one of his significant statements.

Studying Cosmic Ray: 

Prof. Compton is to devote the next two years to the problem of the comic rays, the most penetrating and least known form of radiant energy. He intends to find out what these rays consist of, and where they come from, whether from the sun or from inter galactial space, hundreds of millions of light years from the earth.  

He will start out next March on six months expedition to Peru, New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, and Alaska to continue experiments already begun in the Rockies and in the Alps. Three other cooperating expeditions will be organized for a world survey, one in South America, another in South Africa, and in a third in the Himalaya mountains. This work is made possible by a grant from the Carnegie Foundation. 

Measurements of the rays will be taken in standard ionization chambers at 18 widely distributed stations and at heights varying from 7,000 to 20,000 feet. north and south polar expeditions will also carry the measuring instruments. 

His Expectations in Test 

"A survey such as this," said Prof Compton, "should give the most adequate test that has yet been devised to distinguish whether the cosmic rays are photons, as are light and X-rays or electrons such as give rise to the Earth's aurora. Because of the effect of the earth's magnetic field electrons should give less intense rays  near the equator than near the pole. Likewise if the cosmic rays have their origin in the earth's atmosphere there should presumably be variations with the geographic locations. 

"The cosmic rays are a type of radiation that strikes the earth from above. They are measured by means of sensitive electrical equipment designed to measure the electrical conductivity of air. At high altitudes the air is electrically a better conductor than at low altitudes, due to the fact that these rays are more intense at the high altitudes. It seems probable that the electrical conductivity of the Kennelly-Heaviside layer, which makes long distance radio broadcasting possible, may be due to the ionization of the upper atmosphere produced by these rays. 

Similar to Star Light 

"If as now seems probable the cosmic rays enter the Earths atmosphere almost uniformly from all directions, it would indicate that the rays originate in some part of the heavens which is the same in all directions. This would mean that they come from interstellar space. Thus the cosmic rays are similar to star light in that they are due to events which took place millions of years ago at remote portions of the cosmos. The energy in the cosmic rays is found to be, roughly, the same as that of starlight. Though this may seem to be a very small energy, when it is remembered that the emission of light is the chief business of a star, it will be seen that as cosmic events go, the cosmic rays are thus of very great importance." 

In experiments last year Prof Compton found that the rays are of equal intensity in the Rockies and in the Alps, and are very slightly more intense by day than by night. His findings are in general with those of Prof. R. A. Millikan. Dr. Millikan has advanced the theory that the cosmic rays are indicative of the building of process in the universe, picturing them as creative streams of energy offsetting the running down process involved in the destruction of atoms through radiant energy.

To Release Atomic Energy

This work in cosmic rays looks toward the ultimate release of atomic energy, for they are little particles of terrific energy. Science hitherto has conceived of energy as based on a destructive principle. Prof. Compton points to the recent report of a German scientist, Bothe, that he had found what he believed to be the production of very high frequency gamma rays, almost cosmic rays, through the union of atoms. He regards this as one of the most important pieces of scientific news in years. These odd pieces of laboratory information may fuse together some day into a great discovery, for this is the way that discoveries come. 

It took may minds to produce Einstein, and the revolutionary idea of relativity, which is just beginning to seep into human thinking, is but the precursor of more radical changes in thinking. 

There is the quantum theory, (which is) " the unsubstantial (non-material) pageant of space, time and matter crumbling into grains of action," as an outgrowth, and now the principle of indeterminacy, or uncertainty in the atomic field, formulated by Heisenberg in 1927 and considered by some scientists, notably Prof. A. S. Eddington of Cambridge as ranking in importance with relativity.          

                                Key to Physics Problems 

It is with this principle that Prof Compton now deals. he finds it the key to the solution of many riddles in physics and the answer to much in psychology. He takes his stand with Eddington and that school and against Bertrand Russell and Planck, who would have it that the theory  is based merely on scientific ignorance. 

The statement of this theory is that a particle may have position, or it may have velocity, but it cannot in any sense have both. 

"A large majority of those who have studied the newer developments agree with Eddington and with me, that the uncertainty relation is a thing that represents real limitations of our physical knowledge." said Prof. Compton.               

"The principle of uncertainty really says that in making measurements by physical apparatus a limit is set to the amount of information we can get and beyond that limit there is no method of telling what the outcome of physical events is going to be. It is not ignorance, but the fact that physical measurements are not of the kind that make such knowledge possible. I have a feeling that Russell and his group have not quite grasped that. The laws of the new physics cannot predict any event; they tell only the chance of its occurrence." 

Effect on Human Thought 

"As one whose experiments are partly responsible for this dramatic reversal of the physicists' point of view, I have been especially interested in tracing what the significance of this change may be to human life and thought. 

"So far as physical  experience is concerned it is permissible to suppose that underlying the universe is a background of chaos. This is however, is not the only permissible point of view. One may suppose a strict order but that physical measurements are not of the kind that tell us what that order is. 

"Imagine a faint ray of light passing through a tiny hole, which then spreads by defraction into a broad beam. In the path of this broad beam we may place two photo-electric cells, each connected with an amplifier. These will be made so sensitive that the entrance of a single photon into either cell is recorded. A shutter in the path of the light ray remains open long enough to transmit a single photon. 

"Into which cell will the photon fall? There is no way by which we can be sure. The photon follows the light wave and if we try to make its path more definite by using a smaller hole to transmit the light ray, we merely make the transmitted beam more diffuse by defraction. Though the first photon may enter one cell, with the initial conditions identical as far as any real test can show, the next photon may enter the other cell. 

A Matter of Chance 

"This is what we mean by saying that the law of causality does not hold in our present experiments; for by reproducing the initial cause we cannot reproduce the same effect. The result, so far as scientists can now see, is truly a matter of chance. It means that no physical experiment can test this principle on an atomic scale.  As a physical principle the law of causality must be abandoned.

"This uncertainty may be seen in large scale events. In the experiment of the ray of light passing through a tiny hole, we may connect one of our amplifiers with an electrical device which will explode a stick of dynamite and the other amplifier with a switch which will open the circuit. Now what will happen when the shutter transmits a photon? If it enters one cell, the dynamite will explode, and the apparatus will be blown to bits.  If the photon enters the other cell,  the switch will be pulled and the apparatus is no longer in danger. Thus any event which depends at some stage upon the outcome of a small scale event is essentially unpredictable on the basis of previous history." 

Depends on Small Things 

"Charles G. Darwin mathematical physicist at Edinburgh, in discussing this principle, takes a fling at those who find room for freedom of action in living organisms out of such experiments. He says this does not apply to large things such as people. It does apply however, due to the fact that large actions are determined by small scale things such as nerve currents. 

"Prof. Ralph Lillie has pointed out that the deliberate actions of living organisms are events of just this kind. The sensation which starts the nerve pulse may itself be initiated by a small number of elementary events, such as a dozen photons of light entering the eye. The living organism, in turn, acts as an amplifier of very great power which may be set in operation by events on a scale comparable with the elementary events which we know to be indeterminate. Considering the complexity of the small scale events associated with any of  our deliberate acts, one may say with assurance that on a purely physical basis the end result may have a relatively great uncertainty.

"There is not necessarily any suggestion  of an ability of the organism to choose a course of action. It's energetic actions may correspond merely to its lack of skill. 

"If we wish to retain any exact relation between cause and effect,  we must postulate a world, related to the physical world but regarding which experiment gives us no information, (yet) in which the events may be determined.

Follow Laws of Chance 

"In such a non-physical world it is possible that motives and thoughts may play a determining part, while in the physical world, in which such things remain unnoticed, events appear to follow the laws of chance. 

"The new physics does not suggest a solution of the old question of how mind acts on matter. It does definitely, however, admit the possibility of such an action and suggests where the action may take effect.

"It is conceivable that some such system may hold as far as one could go. One cannot draw a limit. Consciousness may be associated with inorganic matter. There is no reason to say yes or not. Physical laws must be satisfied for any system, atoms or people. Physical laws are not sufficient to tell us what people or atoms are going to do. We say that people determine their course. With atoms we say it is chance. It may be merely that we do not know the non-physical factors which largely determine the atom's actions, as well as we do those of living organisms. 

"Professor Sommerfield of Munich definitely takes the attitude that in the relations between waves and particles the dual characteristic of nature, the waves correspond to a state of consciousness, much the same as our own consciousness. 

"In the psychological field, I feel that the things that are accounted for by physical means represent only a limited portion of reality, that they fail to account for the fact that men individually and collectively achieve human motives.". It seems that some degree of uncertainty, such as the physicist has recently found, is necessary if non-physical things, as for example, thoughts and motives, are to have any relation to the physical world. Without this flexibility in physical law, it is doubtful whether there could be an organic evolution with its incessant struggle for life. It is, in short only, because the world in a physical sense is not wholly, reliable that it can have any human meaning.