Edison and the Pure Science Ideal in 19th-Century America

Science  08 Feb 1980:
Vol. 207, Issue 4431, pp. 612-617
DOI: 10.1126/science.207.4431.612


Between 1878 and 1882, key members of the American scientific community played an important role in Thomas A. Edison's work on electric lighting. Impressed by his abilities, these scientists came to regard Edison as a peer and led him to see himself as a scientific man. But Edison's high standing among scientists and the American public and his professed self-image as a scientist provoked America's noted experimental physicist, Henry A. Rowland, to make a "Plea for pure science" before the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1883.