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Does an individual make the times or do the times make the individual? At the end of the 19th century, the time was flush with opportunities for physicists to change the times and to bring about a new worldview for the human species. Standing ready to exploit the opportunities available were men like Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Ernest Rutherford, and Niels Bohr, and these men in turn changed the times: through their efforts the 20th century became the century of physics. So the question remains: did the times make these men or did these men make the times?
We wonder whether Richard Feynman lamented that he was born some 15 years too late to be one of those physicists who created quantum mechanics, the theory that brought physics into a fundamentally new paradigm. We cannot answer the implied question, but we do know that Feynman envied Dirac who had been a principal architect of quantum mechanics. We also know that when World War II ended in August 1945, the times were again bursting...