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Oh it's a question whether this can be carried on. Is it possible for him to continue to accumulate knowledge of danger and to exert. Controlling influence over us to continue to increase these two natural factors which he himself constitutes at the rate we become accustomed to in our own lifetime. Or if it is man's role in the development of our part of the universe is very very clear. It is the application of intelligence to matter including himself and his job is to develop himself for this Sam. This is his role. Now can he do this. Can he go on. At his present rapid rate of advance indefinitely. Can we hope that while our children and grandchildren will see his miraculous development we've seen how there's quite an argument here because.
Those of us in education are faced with this problem in a very cute way. The bulk of information is becoming so great that it sometimes appear itself to be slowing down our rate of discovery and rate of progress. It's even said that people cannot expect to become expert in any broad field or in any broad group feels or anything broader than a very narrow narrow aspect of a single field. Because of this not I like to speak very strongly against this point. It seems this to me is based on a misconception of what it is that is needed to be able to move in a field of knowledge. There is no doubt about the fact that the number of pages of material being published in all the various fields at least of science which I know best. As grown exponentially and it's even hard to get the
library space what the books and it's coming to be such a burden that there is great doubt that anyone can ever read this material or even a small part of this fact. However I believe does not make it a firm conclusion that research must grind to a halt or even slow down because of this. The way out of it I think is a simple one namely true understanding of a subject makes it statement its description its definition and its discussion more possible not less possible. And as we come to the fore understanding of the various branches of science and knowledge we'll be able to dispense with the great bulk of substantiating material and data which led to the discoveries. Newton's laws of motions for example made it possible to state on one
page facts about nature which would otherwise require all librarians and looking into the future. It would seem that we could expect as we continue to develop a true understanding. The great bulk of material which we now stare at in our libraries will become largely unnecessary Now if we're quick to see the line and quick to develop the evidence to substantiate the new principles and trolls we discover. Then we need not do any more than to write the final summaries the textbooks the review articles. It's hard to imagine that we can go on forever working on say human genetics without coming to some general conclusions which simplify the problem. Conclusions which what allows us to dispense with a large amount of the enormous bump of literature. So I think mankind's in a way Joel capabilities are
up to the challenge of what I consider to be his principal role namely the application of intelligence to matter including himself and to develop himself for this job. We do have some very serious problems that may slow down this process one of them is a problem of communication. As the number of scholars and scientists who are working at any one time increases it is an urgent matter that communication between them be facilitated and this is a serious problem. This makes all of the questions of communication paramount important and the question of allowing a scientist or a humanist in one part of the world to talk with another is of the very
greatest importance. When we think of various technological advances such as the rapid copying machines and the wonderful effect they have had on the speed of handling information we still have such things as language barriers which we haven't dealt with. We still have elegant machinery which we aren't using such as television or not using to near its full capability. I think that there is no doubt that the challenge can be met and that through the scientific and learned societies it will be possible for people to communicate rapidly enough so that deprecation of work is avoided. I am but I it is held in one place in the world will be rapidly known throughout the world for the collapsing time scale which we envisage as man becomes more and more in command takes more and firmer
command of nature will require that this communication exist. We can cite many examples of things may happen in the future. Where is the application of human intelligence will be a natural force a first magnitude. I'd like to suggest that his role and natural development and the development of nature is one which in itself may be part of nature and would like to suggest that you think about the possibilities that there be other planets on other stars which are farther along time wise. And consider what the intelligent being of that distant environment may be doing and may have done.
I think the experiment of listening for radio waves from outer space is the most exciting one. Of course our closest star What is it four light years away. So it's not very likely we'll go visit them. But the concept that intelligent beings are part of natural law and I wouldn't go so far as to say a chemical phenomenon but part of natural law would lead us to expect that there are countless planets which are inhabited by intelligent beings. And if we project into the future the development of the human race which an extrapolation of our past development would seem to justify We can see that we will have done things which would be breathtaking to even the most imaginative of us in this room tonight. And these well Ben accomplished within
time small compared to the 10000 years mankind has inhabited the Americans and what will a million years bring. And on this distant planet we might imagine that this never never the land actually exists. So I conclude that man's place in the physical universe is to be its master or at least to be a master of the part he inhabits. And by controlling or using the natural forces with his intelligence to put them to work to his purposes and to build a future world in His own image. This is an exciting possibility. This is what can be done and may be done if man has the strength to control his irrational tendencies and to develop his strong characteristics and to suppress his weaker
diversionary tendencies. Everything we know would say that the opportunities for further development are on bonded for irrational society operating without war. Man's intelligence taken with self-respect a sense of responsibility feeling of destiny are the qualities which will make this possible. They must enjoy and will enjoy his role as king of the universe. For all this to come true you must understand that this is his function and this is his destiny and find happiness through accepting this role. This to me is man's place in the physical universe to be its thing through the power. Yelm possesses intelligence. You have heard Willard F. Libby as he spoke on the topic. Man's place in the physical universe. Mr. Libby is professor of chemistry and director of the
Institute of geo physics at the University of California at Los Angeles. This was the first of a group of lectures given at the University of Chicago to initiate a new discussion on the nature of man his place in the universe and his biological intellectual and social potentialities. Future speakers on the series include Derek J. The solar price Avalon professor of the history of science at Yale University Roger W. Sperry FP Hickson professor of psycho biology at the California Institute of Technology. Clifford Giffords professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago and James M. Redfield assistant professor of social thought at the University of Chicago. The speaker on our next program will be George Wald professor of biology at Harvard University professor Walz topic will be biological determinacy individuality and the problem of free will. These lectures were
recorded at the office of radio and television of the University of Chicago. The programs are prepared and distributed for broadcast by national educational radio. This is the national educational radio network.
The Chicago lectures
Willard F. Libby, part 2
Producing Organization
University of Chicago
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents the second part of a speech by Willard F. Libby, director of Institute of Geophysics, UCLA: "Man's Place in the Physical Universe."
Series Description
This series presents lectures given at University of Chicago, focusing on the nature of human beings, their place in the universe, and their potentialities. The lectures were also published in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, beginning in September 1965.
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Producing Organization: University of Chicago
Speaker: Libby, Willard F.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 65-40-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:12:02
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Chicago: “The Chicago lectures; Willard F. Libby, part 2,” 1965-07-21, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 28, 2024,
MLA: “The Chicago lectures; Willard F. Libby, part 2.” 1965-07-21. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 28, 2024. <>.
APA: The Chicago lectures; Willard F. Libby, part 2. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from