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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: June 2016

IV - Secretary of the Royal Society, 1919–29

Summary

IN 1919, Jeans was awarded one of the Royal Medals of the Royal Society, and in the same year he was elected to the office of Honorary Secretary of the Society. Hale's letter of congratulation to Jeans contains several points of interest:

Pasadena, California May 25, 1920

Mr J. H. JEANS,

Cleveland Lodge, Dorking, England

My dear Mr Jeans,

I meant long since to send you my heartiest congratulations on your election as Secretary of the Royal Society, or rather to offer my congratulations to the Council, as I am sure that the event is of no small significance in its bearing on the future development of the Society. This is unquestionably a very critical period in the progress of science and the policy adopted by such authoritative bodies as the Royal Society may turn the scale in the right direction. In this country, and probably England, the conditions are very complex. On the one hand, the increased cost of living and the high salaries offered by the industries are drawing good research men away from the faculties of educational institutions. On the other hand, there is such a marked advance in the public appreciation of science and research and such an obvious necessity of developing more investigators that the opportunity to interest governments and individual donors is greater than ever before. This is manifested in part by the strong expressions of the value of pure science made by industrial leaders. The pamphlet I am sending you under separate cover (Scientific Discovery and the Wireless Telephone was prepared by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company to accompany their exhibit of the wireless telephone and its scientific development, first shown at the building of the National Research Council in Washington and now at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. You will see what emphasis they lay upon the importance of research in physics without reference to practical return. If we can convince everyone of this, I am sure we can obtain large new funds for pure science.