The Day and the Day After

  • David Dowling


In 1913, H. G. Wells read about Professor Soddy and the ‘Interpretation of Radium’ and wrote to his friend Simmons, ‘I’ve suddenly broken out into one of the good old scientific romances again, and I want to know quite the latest about the atomic theory and sources of energy. … My idea is taken from Soddy. Men are supposed to find out how to set up atomic degeneration in the heavy elements just as they found out long ago how to set up burning in coal. Hence limitless energy.’2 The World Set Free, dedicated to Soddy and published just before the Great War, accurately predicted the Curies’ discovery of radioactivity, even to the year 1933. The novel was also to have a direct influence on the process of scientific discovery, for Leo Szilard read the work in German in 1932 and two years later applied for a patent to cover his method of setting up a chain reaction: ‘Knowing what this would mean — and I knew it because I had studied H. G. Wells — I did not want this patent to become public.’3


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Copyright information

© David Dowling 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Dowling

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