A Different Sort of Time
Jerrold Zacharias (1905-1986) was a physicist well placed by historical circumstance to take a central part in the development of American science, science policy, and science education. In a clear, nontechnical account, Jack Goldstein tells the story of this entrepreneurial American scientist who played an essential part in experiments important to the development of quantum mechanics, who later became an advisor to the government during much of the Cold War period, and whose leadership in educational reform resulted in the restructuring of the entire American high school science curriculum.Zacharias lived at a time when an individual with imagination and courage could make a difference, whether at the forefront of science or in matters of public policy. He believed that every citizen, even those with modest scientific sophistication and knowledge, could learn to think like a scientist. Now, at a time when the issues of science education and science literacy are again of compelling national interest, his ideas merit close attention.Goldstein describes Zacharias's coming of scientific age in the early 1930s, as a member of 1. 1. Rabi's group at Columbia, and examines the leading role he played during World War II at MIT's Radiation Laboratory and at the Manhattan Project. From about 1955 on, Goldstein observes, Zacharias made significant contributions to science education in physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics at the primary, secondary, and college levels. As a result of his initiatives, science and mathematics curriculum development flourished in a number of third-world countries.Jack S. Goldstein is Professor of Physics at Brandeis University.