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The English scientist who invented radar has published a stinging attack on C. P. Snow's Fall Godkin Lectures, "Science and Government." Writing in the current Saturday Review, Sir Robert Watson-Watt takes issue with Snow's general thesis, as well as most of the British novelist's facts.
In his lectures--which were recently published by the Harvard University Press--Snow used Winston Churchill's relations with two of his wartime science advisers as an example of the kind of "closed politics" which influence a government's scientific decisions.
Snow suggested that if Churchill had come to power in Britain earlier than he did, then Germany would have won the war because England would never have developed radar. Churchill's impulse for victory would have been thwarted by the pettiness of his friend and scientific adviser Frederick A. Lindemann, who was blindly opposed to radar, and its supporter, Sir Henry Tizard.
Watson-Watts says that Snow's account is "nonsense." Snow's descriptions of Lindemann's villainous character are factually incorrect: "the Lindemann I knew was astonishingly unlike the abominable Snow man." According to Watson-Watt, Lindemann supported the development of radar all along, and contrary to Snow's "melodramatic stage character," he was an able, intelligent administrator.
Snow's story of the quarrel between Lindemann and Tizard is thoroughly one-sided and "novelistic," Watson-Watt declares: "I suspect that the itch became unbearable and the novelist dug in, involving himself emotionally in the affairs of his subjects, as a novelist must, and arranging the facts accordingly, as a historian must not."
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