Reuniting Theory and Practice: The Man of Science and the First World War
At the turn of the twentieth century, the British Association had not yet emerged from the crisis of the 1880s and 1890s. The attacks of the anti-vivisectionists continued; the rise of the scientific entrepreneur, encapsulated in the stellar career of Marconi, increasingly sidelined BAAS activities and initiatives. Annual meetings had long since ceased to be the serious, cutting-edge scientific gatherings they had been in the heyday of the X-Club, and were seen, increasingly as festive ‘picnics’ for aging men of science and their families.1 With the self-styled ‘practical men’ claiming the ground of applied science for themselves, the BAAS, together with university scientists in general, were increasingly associated with ‘pure’ or ‘theoretical research’. In the popular press, this distinction, as we have seen, placed them squarely in the space of the laboratory away from the world. Thus, more so arguably than in the early days of the Association, the man of science was equated with the figure of the isolated scholar.