BY ALVA JOHNSTON,
The weekly magazine: “The New Yorker”, DECEMBER 2, 1933
The only scientists who kept the Business-as-Usual sign hanging out during the war were the mathematicians and astronomers. The other men of learning were engaged in war work. Physicists were making better range-finders, chemists were making better poison gases, and theologians were proving that their gods were in the trenches qualifying for meritorious-conduct medals and kisses on both cheeks. But the astronomers and mathematicians were not doing their bits. While the war was in progress, Albert Einstein was completing his theory at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, and British astronomers were working on plans to test it. It was fraternizing with the enemy. Scientists of this type have always been dangerous internationalists.
They did incalculable harm to Church and State at an earlier time by casting suspicion on the Bible truth that the earth was flat and had four corners, and even today a man who meddles with the universe is regarded as unsafe. One of the organizers of the American Legion started an agitation to bar Einstein from the United States as a Red; the Woman Patriot Corporation lodged a complaint against him with the State Department; an American consular official nearly heckled the scientist into abandoning an American trip; Cardinal O’Connell denounced the Einstein theory as false, atheistic, and immoral; a religious writer charged that Einstein had cribbed the theory from the writings of a thirteenth-century saint. Nevertheless, Einstein slipped past the immigration authorities in 1930, and he did it again last October. Today, he is openly carrying on mathematical work at Princeton.
The anti-nationalistic taint in astronomy manifested itself when British astronomers, even before the Treaty of Versailles had been