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Scientometrics, JD Bernal and Joshua Lederberg


JD Bernal, politics, and science
Eugene Garfield Scientist
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If Bernal had... by the way, did you get a chance to look at the biography of JD Bernal? I had the book. It's really wonderful. I met Andrew Brown in Dublin and he's a wonderful guy. But, if Bernal hadn't been so pro-Stalin, he would have probably won a Nobel Prize, I'm pretty sure of that. Do you know that Churchill, he was an advisor to Churchill? And Churchill knew he was a communist, it's an incredible thing. I guess it's how people felt about Oppenheimer, you know. General Groves was not stupid, he said I don't care if he's a communist or not, he's a great physicist. That's the way it was, I guess. I suppose that Einstein was probably accused of being, if not a communist, a Marxist, I don't know. And, as I mentioned, Bernal was also a Sephardic name. So, I tried to find out if Derek [Price] had ever had any personal contact with Bernal and it turns out he was not, he didn't get his, he went to the University of London, but he didn't get his degree under Bernal. He just may have known about him. He knew about him. But, he didn't actually have any dealings with him when he was younger. I don't know when he first encountered the Social Function of Science but I encountered it early on because my uncle had given me a copy of that book and then when I went to the University of Colorado when we were talking about science and the war and everything, like that, Bernal's name came up. People knew about him then but only from that book because nobody was hearing about him during the war, he was working probably secretly. I don't know how open he was during the time of war, I guess he was just too busy.

Eugene Garfield (1925-2017) was an American scientist and publisher. In 1960 Garfield set up the Institute for Scientific Information which produced, among many other things, the Science Citation Index and fulfilled his dream of a multidisciplinary citation index. The impact of this is incalculable: without Garfield’s pioneering work, the field of scientometrics would have a very different landscape, and the study of scholarly communication would be considerably poorer.

Listeners: Henry Small

Henry Small is currently serving part-time as a research scientist at Thomson Reuters. He was formerly the director of research services and chief scientist. He received a joint PhD in chemistry and the history of science from the University of Wisconsin. He began his career as a historian of science at the American Institute of Physics' Center for History and Philosophy of Physics where he served as interim director until joining ISI (now Thomson Reuters) in 1972. He has published over 100 papers and book chapters on topics in citation analysis and the mapping of science. Dr Small is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an Honorary Fellow of the National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services, and past president of the International Society for Scientometrics and Infometrics. His current research interests include the use of co-citation contexts to understand the nature of inter-disciplinary versus intra-disciplinary science as revealed by science mapping.

Duration: 2 minutes, 28 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 23 June 2009