Long identified with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which he served as vice president and dean of engineering from 1932 to 1938, DR. VANNEVAR BUSH left Cambridge to become president of the Carnegie Institution in Washington. There he was selected by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to head up the extraordinary war team of some six thousand American scientists eventually known as the Office of Scientific Research and Development. With this authority he was brought into close touch with British scientists also working on national defense, and in crises with the Prime Minister himself.
In July, 1961, the ATLANTICpublished a Special Supplement, Psychiatry in American Life, (now available in book form) in which the majority of the contributors were psychoanalytically oriented. In July of this year we returned to the subject of mental illness with the deliberate intent of discussing other forms of treatment, and of inquiring into the present care and needs of the community. Those analysts who have angrily resisted the criticism we brought to bear should remember that our approach has not been one-sided and that medical procedure, now as at the time of the famous Flexner Report, must be open to the public inspection both by the professional and the layman. Our issue on Disturbed Americans has been more widely read than any other this year, and the responses to it, only a fraction of which we can publish, manifest the deep concern of a conscientious public. — The Editor
From 1940 to the war’s end, VANNEVAR BUSH,as Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, was intimately concerned with weapons of the utmost destruction. Now, on his retirement as President of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, he returns to his native New England, asking himself what will happen if wat is abolished. Is there, as William James believed, a moral equivalent of war?
August 6 of this year will mark the tenth anniversary of Hiroshima, and this seems an appropriate moment to hear from the dean of American scientists on the motivations which spur them on today. A graduate of Tufts College in the Class of 1913, VANNEVAR BUSH has the drive, the courage, and the insight which made him a leading spirit at Massachusetts Institute of Technology,where he was vice president from 1932 to 1938. It was his initiative and direction which guided the National Defense Research Committee, later the Office of Scientific Research and Development, from 1910 until after the war. In December he steps down as President of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, a position he has held for sixteen years. The trenchant paper which follows is drawn from an address he delivered before the American Philosophical Society.
“Consider a future device … in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.”