In World War I, when the British did not dragoon their scientists as sternly as in this one, somebody asked gruff Sir Ernest Rutherford (later Lord Rutherford) if he would please stop puttering with the atom and work full time on antisubmarine devices. Rutherford answered, in effect: Gentlemen, I am trying to split the atom. If I succeed, it will be more important than the war.

He did succeed, in 1919, and he was right about its importance.

Worldwide Ferment. Some of the dazed publicity that last week followed the unveiling of...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!