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In February, 1919, the editor of the Century New World Series invited Dr. George Ellery Hale to prepare for the series a volume on the war and science. This invitation contained the following suggestions:
“ It is desirable to give, first, a general statement of the extent to which the successful prosecution of the war required the mobilization of the resources of the country; second, the manner in which such resources came to the aid of the Government; third, the results gained in the fields of research; and, finally, the effect that the war has had and will have on the promotion of scientific research and the application of science to industry in the future. An account, of course, should be given of the organization and work of the National Research Council and the other agencies created by the Government for the handling of scientific phases of the war administration."
Dr. Hale, feeling that it was impracticable for him to prepare the entire volume, requested the writer to arrange with scientific authorities for the preparation of various chapters and to act as editor of the volume. It was originally planned to have manuscripts prepared by a few individuals, each of whom should be responsible for the military contributions of a certain science or group of sciences. This idea could not be put into effect because of specialization in scientific war service. The final outcome was the splitting of major sections of the book into chapters which deal with the special aspects and contributions of physics, chemistry, geology, and other sciences.
The volume is not a complete account of the relations of science in America to military activities; instead it presents examples of the important contributions of several of the
natural sciences and of their related technologies. Completeness of treatment within the scope of such a volume as was proposed was impracticable because of the magnitude and diversity of scientific service. It is appropriate to state also that because of the impracticability of mentioning more than a small percentage of those who deserve recognition, no attempt has been made by most contributors to indicate the credit and responsibility of individuals.
It has been the primary, if not the single, purpose of the several writers to offer to the lay reader an untechnical account of the nature of certain methods and their practical relations to military problems. The editor, and doubtless every contributor, has held clearly in mind the importance of acquainting the public with scientific progress and with typical examples of the dependence of industrial advances upon the development of science.