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:
SCIENCE FINDS COSMIC CLEW TO HUMAN DESTINY
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
"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
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.
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
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
"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
"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
"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.
"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."
"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.
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.