Chapter 2 - St. Petersburg in 1905
St. Petersburg in 1905.
This beautiful city, a planned architectural example of enlightened despotism, was certainly entering its most exciting and prophetic years at the time Zworykin entered university life. The unquestioned cultural center of Russia, it became also the center of a type of political activism that was to have a profound effect on the course of twentieth century history.
Since he was to enter the engineering department at the Institute of Technology (Fig. II-1), he immediately took the entrance examinations. That year they were especially difficult because the number of applicants was ten times higher than the available vacancies. Although he passed all of his examinations, his final score was not high enough to place him on the first acceptance list. So, on the merit of his high school diploma, he took the next best choice and entered the Physics department at the University of St. Petersburg. (He remembers he was so impressed by his very first physics lecture—by the then famous Professor Chvolsen—that he decided to forget all about engineering and remain at the University.) However, his father did not approve of his decision, and he received a telegram that his father was coming to St. Petersburg to personally "settle the matter." When his father arrived, Zworykin was already on the second acceptance list of the Institute of Technology, so his father insisted he leave (p. 19) the University and enter the Institute. His Father, whose authority was "absolute in these matters," had even personally ordered his university uniform. "Thus," he said with characteristic understatement, "I was installed securely at the Institute."
Zworykin, ever open to new experience, easily entered into his new environment. But as the experimental pragmatist that was an essential part of his nature, he soon saw beneath the political propaganda that was endemic throughout the Institute structure, and received an enduring education as to the often overlooked motives of great movement and their leaders.
The Russia of 1905-06 was in the turmoil of the first suppressed revolution. The slogan of "going among the peasants and the factory workers" preaching freedom was very popular among the younger generation. The members of the Institute of Technology were in the avant-garde of this movement. Soon after my enrollment, a students’ strike was declared and the Institute was closed. As I remember, the reasons for the strike did not involve the Institute, but were in support of releasing political demonstrators who were arrested some time previously. As a protest, students barricaded themselves in the Institute and refused to surrender to the police. Therefore, one of my first experiences was in the besieged Institute building, attending noisy and violent meetings, during which many resolutions and demands to the government, etc., were made. It was exciting and interesting. Of course, no study was possible during this time. There was never any lack of food because students from other Institutes delivered food to us over the roofs of adjoining buildings. After several days, some kind of agreement was reached and normal life was reestablished. (p. 20)
During these first turbulent days of the siege, I made my first friendships. The two students who were to become my closest friends were Konstantine Barski, a fellow from the Urals, and Alexander Bomse from the South of Russia; the friendship of these two lasted through all my college years. They were entirely different characters, both very talented, Konstantine even brilliant. Konstantine, who was always involved in something, was excited and rebellious. Alexander was more sedate and the most reasonable of all three of us. Unfortunately Konstantine lacked temperance and quite often became unmanageably drunk after some of our frequent celebrations. So, for Alexander and I, he became a constant worry and responsibility; we often had to bring him to his lodgings and put him to bed. His life was short; he was killed in the beginning of the First World War.
Alexander was very studious, although less talented. I think his friendship was a stabilizing influence on me. He graduated in due course and became quite a successful engineer. He visited my home often during summer vacations and became almost part of the family. Both Konstantine and Alexander influenced my choice of extra-curricular activities. Although I worked quite diligently and had no difficulty in passing all my scholastic requirements, there was still time to become involved in the other activities of student life. We took part in all kinds of political organizations—sometimes illegal, attended numerous meetings taking part in the propaganda activities among the workers, visiting factory political meetings, etc. Most intellectuals and students of that time were involved in similar activities, not only in the capitals but in such provincial towns as Murom . Some of my sisters and cousins participated in these activities.
The freshmen students were used mostly as errand boys by the upperclassmen who were more heavily involved in politics. I remember once I was instructed to take a heavy package from the Institute shop and carry it to a certain apartment. I was told to be very careful, watch for police, and not to say anything if I were caught. I was very nervous as I looked for the address, trying to remember all the precautions of a real conspirator. The entrance to the apartment I was looking for was in the inner court of the building. When I approached the gates, I noticed several bystanders looking in. It alarmed me and I passed the gates, carefully observing what was going on inside. There were police carriages and somebody was being dragged out from the main door. I passed quickly by and returned to the Institute by a roundabout way. Later I found out that the apartment to which I was supposed to deliver the package was raided by the police, evidently in anticipation of finding the very thing that I was supposed to deliver. I became suspicious that most, if not all, of what was going on inside the student organization was (p. 21) known to the police. From then on, I was careful not to accept any more such errands. Many of my fellow students were periodically arrested during that time, and some of them paid dearly for their political activities. Some spent years in prison or were sent to Siberia, which of course completely wrecked their lives and curtailed their education. I was once caught distributing leaflets for the election for the second Duma (Parliament) and as a result spent a few weeks in prison . But the time spent was very pleasant since I was with many other students. We all immediately became heroes. The rest of the students kept in constant contact with us, and almost every day somebody’s "fiancée" would visit us to bring us sweets, letters, etc. In spite of being there, I was able to correspond with my parents, so they never knew I was in prison.
These political activities also produced my first great disillusionment. I began to feel that some of the leaders, whose inspiring speeches we listened to at meetings, were far from being as idealistic in ordinary life as they sounded in their public appearances. I remember one incident that greatly affected me during my second year at the Institute. I was approached by one of the leaders of the student organization with a suggestion, essentially a command, to help another student with his drawings. He was about to graduate, but because he was suspected by the police, had to complete his Institute requirements as soon as possible in order to escape abroad. To obtain his diploma, he had to finish a lot of drawings. I accepted the assignment, which was of course completely gratis, and spent a great many evenings working on the drawings. One evening when I had almost finished them, there was a call throughout the Institute summoning the students to a meeting. The meeting was called about students, who instead of doing their own drawings, paid poorer students to do them for them. The main speaker was the fellow for whom I was doing the drawings. What affected me the most was his passionate accusations against the wealthy students who were trying to get their diplomas without doing the work themselves, competing with the students who did their own work. I was very indignant of the fact that the fellow was speaking with such passion against the very thing of which he was guilty himself.
It was rumored among the students that it was possible to buy, from the Institute archives, the drawings of old projects and just by modifying some of the figures to fit the assignment, pay needy students to copy them and in that way complete the credit requirements. I sadly realized that the work I was doing was to copy from an old project purchased from the Institute archives with all identification removed and some figures altered. The fact that I myself was taking part in this fraud, aroused me so much that I held a meeting with some of my friends and we passed a resolution (p. 22) against this practice; we asked the administration to take proper steps. This was a bold and unprecedented step and we knew that we were looking for trouble, but we still decided to do it. Evidently the administration already suspected this practice, since their actions were practically instantaneous. The archives were closed and the personnel involved were dismissed. As we expected, our action produced great excitement among the students. Noisy meetings and even fist fights took place, but the majority of the students agreed that it was the right step and the malpractice with the drawings should be stopped. I remember, several years later during the war, discovering that the person for whom I was making the drawings, graduated about a year later, did not go abroad, but was employed by one of the big steel factories in Leningrad and was hated by the workers as a very harsh administrator.
Irrespective of incidents such as these, his university years were generally happy ones. He studied hard, was a diligent student, and he also found time for cultural activities.
At my second year in the Institute, my sister Mary was permitted by our parents to go to St. Petersburg with me and enroll in the Women’s Polytechnic School. So for the next two years we lived in the same apartment and spent our free time together, visiting museums, exhibits, operas, and concerts. Both of us were opera aficionados so we spent many nights waiting in front of the ticket office in order to get inexpensive balcony seats for some desirable performance. We found out quite soon that the lovers of concerts and operas were essentially always the same people, so among ourselves we organized the purchase of tickets by dividing the time of the vigil. In this manner, we were able to see most of the outstanding artists of this period, such as [Feodor] Schaliapin, Sobolev [Leonid Sobinov?], [Dmitri] Smirnow, etc., as well as dramatic artists like [Alexander] Davidov, [M. G.] Savina, [Elena?] Polevitzkaya, [Vera] Komissarzhevskaya, etc.
I remember especially the annual painting exhibition, particularly of the modern Russian artists, some of whom eventually became famous abroad. The exhibition was usually eagerly awaited weeks ahead and the arrangements were made to go in groups. There was much discussion of what to expect at the exhibit and who were the favorite artists. The visits to these exhibitions remain with me as the brightest spots of this time.
After one year in the Polytechnic Institute, my sister lost interest in engineering and entered the Medical School from which she eventually graduated. Consequently, I met an entirely different crowd of her classmates, many of whom often came to our apartment (p. 23) to study for examinations. I was always interested in medicine, often suffering all the symptoms of the diseases they happened to be studying at any given time.*
*What a marvelous understatement. One can just imagine the young Zworykin suffering symptoms of diseases his sister’s female classmates were studying. What an original entrée into what, he does not tell us about.
One of the outstanding social events each year was the Institute Ball. For some reason, possibly due to my acquaintance with the crowd I met at the theatre while waiting for tickets, I found myself involved in the preparatory committee for these balls. I helped contact famous artists, trying to persuade them to donate their performance for the benefit of needy students. We invariably had very good response and even the most famous artists of that time were glad to participate in our program. The organization of the Ball usually took quite a bit of time before and after the event. Some of the big drafting rooms of the Institute had to be emptied and fitted for the dancing and the reception. As a member of the committee, I helped in bringing the artists to the Institute, took part in entertaining them, and delivered them home afterwards. In some cases, this last part was complicated, because a part of entertaining the male artists was getting them to as much drink as possible; it was a feather in our caps if we had to deliver them home practically unconscious. For that purpose, there were special committee members assigned to keep them company—those with reputations in being able to drink a lot and still remain on their feet.
It was during his university years that he encountered the man who was to have the most lasting influence on his life—Boris Rosing. Rosing was truly one of the great pioneers in the art of Television. In the next paragraphs, Zworykin describes his initial encounter and subsequent work with Rosing.
When we enrolled at the Institute we were each given report books which outlined all the subjects, projects, and experimental work we had to pass before we could graduate. The first subject on the list was Theology and the last was the final project according to chosen specialty. All these subjects were to be graded and signed by professors. In other respects, control of students was by the honor system. (p. 24)
Among our subjects was a series of necessary experiments conducted in physics and engineering laboratories. The physics laboratory particularly fascinated me and instead of doing only the assigned experiments (to get them reported on the score card) I spent considerable time in the laboratory trying my hands on all the equipment available. The professor in charge of the laboratory was Boris Rosing, whose further influence in my life proved to be a very important one. He evidently noticed my interest in experimental physics because once when he caught me working on a problem for some other students, he took me aside and instead of reprimanding me (since it was against the rules), he said that he noticed my interest and since he was working on some problems of his own, asked me if I would be interested in helping him in my spare time. He had an excellent reputation among the students, and I eagerly said yes. The first Saturday after his offer, I reported to his private laboratory, located across the street from the Institute in the Bureau of Standards building, where Professor Rosing was also on the staff. Here I discovered that he was working on the problem of television, about which I had never heard before. This was my first introduction to the problem that eventually occupied most of my life.
I learned that Professor Rosing was an inventor of an entirely new approach to television. He hoped to avoid the limitation of mechanically moving parts, developed by earlier inventors, which were proving an impediment to further progress. His idea was to use a cathode-ray beam in a vacuum, deflecting it by electromagnetic fields. All this was entirely new and fascinating to me. For the next two years, I spent most of my free time in his laboratories. Our relationship soon developed into a close friendship, and I found him not only an exceptional scientist but a highly educated and versatile person who during our work together not only used me as his assistant but also instructed me in physics. Actually, he was way ahead of his time. The system which he was working on required many parts that had not yet been developed. At that time the photocells, which were required to transform light into electric energy, were in their infancy and although potassium photocells were described in the literature, the only way to have them was to make them ourselves. Vacuum technique was very primitive, and it required a tremendous amount of time to obtain the vacuum needed. The vacuum pumps which we had were manually operated and quite often we had to raise heavy bottles of mercury up and down for hours at a time in order to produce the vacuum. Electronic amplifying tubes had just been discovered by de Forest but our reconstruction was very inefficient; we struggled to improve it ourselves. Even the glass for the bulbs was not suitable—it was very brittle and therefore difficult to work with; we had to learn to be glassblowers ourselves. Still, at the end of my association with Professor Rosing, he had a workable system consisting of rotating mirrors and a photocell on the pickup end, and a cathode ray tube (p. 25) with partial vacuum which reproduced very crude images over the wire across the bench. It gave us not only the proof that electronic picture reproduction was feasible, but also indicated that intensive work in the development of the several components would be needed before it could be used for practical purposes.
Summers for students at the Institute were often an extension of their university work. Zworykin took full advantage of the opportunities offered for practical work in industrial occupations. In the next paragraphs he describes how he spent his summers during his university years.
Of course, we spent most of our time in the Institute. We had a very large program and it was necessary to study hard, particularly if one wished to be among the more successful students. We were busy not only during the school semester, but many of us, including myself, were engaged in the practical work in the summertime. This summer work was organized between the Institute and the Industries. In Spring, we always had a long list of factory vacancies to choose from. During four summers, I personally worked on the railroad, in a steel factory, on a power station, and with an experimental motor testing laboratory of the Institute. Such summer work gave us a broad experience with industrial methods and prepared us for future work as engineers. Personally, I found this summer experience very interesting and exciting, thereby compensating for the shorter summer vacation. My parents usually objected, however, because they hardly saw me during this period.
In the first summer I had a job on one of the southern railroads. At the beginning I had to work as a stoker, and this was of course very tedious, hard, and tiring work— throwing coal for eight or more hours a day under the boiler. However, that lasted only several weeks and after passing certain tests, I was promoted as assistant to the engineer and finally assigned as an engineer to the railroad yard switching locomotive. Once a fire started in two cars loaded with sugar. The fire was terrifically hot; it soon ignited the wooden track ties so the cars had to be removed as soon as possible. Only the shuttle locomotive could do this, and I happened to be on duty. Contrary to warnings from the railroad crew, I succeeded in getting the cars through the burning tracks. However, I got so excited that on the return to the depot, I mixed the signals and dropped the front wheels of the locomotive in the switching circle, which completely overshadowed my previous good deed. (p. 26)
Another summer I was employed at a steel plant (which belonged to a Belgian concern) that made bridges and all kinds of metal constructions. My work was mostly in drafting rooms, making routine drawings from the designers’ sketches. It was a most conducive atmosphere and I became very friendly with many of my fellow workers. My birthday occurred just before the end of my stay so I arranged a party for the whole drafting department of thirty or so members. My landlord volunteered to arrange a special treat for my guests. Since he used to be a wine dealer and taster of wines, he arranged a "wine tasting party." Everyone accepted my invitation and we had a gala celebration that lasted the whole night. When I came to work the next morning I found the drafting room empty. The chief engineer was furious, frantically trying to find out what kind of epidemic hit his department.
About forty years later I happened to be at a banquet in Liege in connection with the reception of a medal from the Belgian Engineers. Sitting next to me was a Belgian engineer who tried to speak Russian to me. When I asked where he had learned the language, I discovered that he worked for many years in the same plant in Russia—at the time when I was there; he remembered the incident and was very surprised to find that I was the culprit.
During his third year at the Institute, under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce, a foreign excursion was organized for a large group of students. The purpose was two-fold, first as an attempt to familiarize future engineers with European industry by visiting industrial compounds in Germany, Belgium, France and England, and also in its larger aspect, one of many attempts to try and improve the international situation in the years approaching World War I.
Since these students were almost official representatives of Russia, they were very well treated everywhere they went by Mayors and other officials of the cities they visited. Many factories and large industrial laboratories were open to their inspection. Some (p. 27) of the professors, who were traveling with them, organized lectures before any particular visit to acquaint them with the products and organization of the places they were to visit.
At this period the student body was practically autonomous; therefore the group in this excursion had to be self-organized and managed by elected members. The professors who were with us accompanied us only in a technical capacity. At the organization meeting of the group, I was elected a chairman of the administrative committee, thereby finding myself suddenly in charge of fifty students, most of whom were older than myself including some recently graduated engineers. The committee was responsible not only for organizing the expedition (including purchasing of the tickets, arranging hotels, visits to the factories, speaking at banquets, etc.) but also for general troubleshooting. Since most students were young boys, they therefore ran into all kinds of difficulties during our trip. Both my friends, Konstantine and Alexander, were members of the committee. The troubles which we encountered during the trip were so numerous and so constant that they made the trip quite miserable for us. From the start we found that we had to count heads everywhere we went; at our very departure some boys were so engrossed in saying farewell to relatives and friends that they almost missed the train. In fact, one of them had to join us later in Berlin. There was difficulty with the baggage, quarreling among the students for better seats in the train, students losing money, etc., all of which had to be straightened out by the Administrative Committee, supposedly responsible for everything.
At our first stop in Berlin we almost had a riot; there was dissatisfaction because all of the rooms in the hotel were not of the same caliber, and some of the students objected to taking them. We had to resort to drawing lots and finally I found myself in the smallest room of all in order to keep peace in the group. This gave us our first lesson in management and we drew on this experience for the rest of the trip. In spite of many favorable conditions, the trip was marred by some unpleasant incidents, mostly due to the fact that the students were inexperienced and undisciplined and were not too self-governing. Two students were arrested by the police for a drunken brawl in a Berlin pub, and I had to go to the police station with the Russian Consul to get them out. Unfortunately, this proved to be a frequent occurrence, happening in every big city where we stopped. One of the more serious incidents occurred in Manchester, England. Several students from the Caucasus, who were among the most unruly of the group, accidentally found themselves in a women’s lavatory—an event that produced a terrific uproar on the street. A squad of police was called and the students were taken off to prison. It took me several (p. 28) days, and a trip by one of the secretaries of the Russian Embassy from London, to explain that the incident occurred due to the ignorance and different arrangement of the continental lavatories from those in England. At first all those involved were sentenced to a large fine and thirty days confinement. However, the charge was dropped when our secretary produced a photograph, taken a few days before at a banquet given for us by the Lord Mayor of London, in which the culprits were among the honored guests.
Our excursion actually consisted of two groups. One half went only to Brussels to visit the International Fair, and the other half completed the whole trip including England. We visited a great number of factories in four countries, and I am sure that as a result, many students became better engineers. The last difficulty we encountered was on our return, at the Russian border. Some of our papers were lost during the trip and this resulted in some difficulties with the authorities. Arguments ensued with the border officials, so I began sending telegrams to the Director of the Institute. As I was running between various offices of the Railroad Station, I was followed by several members of the group, complaining that they were hungry but could not buy food since they had spent all their money; they actually wanted me to feed them. One of them, a Georgian, got so excited that he threatened me with violence if I did not do this immediately. Finally, everything was settled and we safely returned to St. Petersburg. When I reported to the Director of the Institute that the whole group returned safely, he asked, "Did you lose anyone?" "No, only a couple of suitcases." "Congratulations!" he answered. "The other group on their return from Brussels lost a man and we had to ask the International Police to find him."
Inevitably, his undergraduate years came to an end and graduation day approached. His future choices were not his own, but they weighed heavily in the course of his professional development. The years from his graduation to the spring of 1914 were his most important thus far, for they clarified—by process of exposure—the choices he was to follow after the holocaust of the First World War and the Russian Revolution (Fig. II-2). (p. 29)
Graduation day is probably remembered by everyone. I recollect vividly what happened on my graduation. I knew already that I had passed all the requirements and that my diploma project on diesel-powered rural power stations was accepted with good comments by the examination committee. I had only to pass some formality and to receive the diploma and congratulations from the faculty. I even purchased the engineering official cap that engineers were wearing in Russia. The celebration was organized by my friend for the same night. Suddenly the inspector of the Institute approached me and said that he just noticed that my score book was not completed and according to the rules I could not receive my diploma. To my dismay I found that he was right. I did not get a credit in Theology, which although being a first item in my score book, was never considered by students as an important subject so therefore I completely forgot about it.
The situation was very awkward since I was already on the list of graduates. The inspector suggested that I go and see the theology professor at his home and see if he would provisionally fill my score card. I arrived at the professor’s apartment and explained my predicament to him. At first he was quite upset that his subject was forgotten, but when he found that I had read Kant and some other books on the philosophy of religion which he had on his required reading list, he agreed to give me a provisional score. I promised to come in a few days to take the examination. For some reason, I retained this incident in my memory for several years; I frequently had a nightmare of not receiving my engineering diploma.
At the end of my last year at the Institute, my marks were good and there was a chance that I would be sent abroad to continue my education. However, there were two alternatives; the first one, which I liked the most, was to stay at the Institute and work with Professor Rosing. The other one was the insistence of my Father to return home and help him in his industrial enterprise, which I did not like at all. The solution was a compromise: my Father agreed to my going abroad for one year if I then returned home. The selection of the school for post graduate work was up to the student himself, with the advice of the professor. German or English schools were considered preferable and most suitable from the engineering point of view. On Professor Rosing’s recommendation, however, I chose France in order to work at the College de France under Professor [Paul] Langevin whom Rosing knew and personally admired. Another factor in my decision to go abroad was that just before graduation I had an accident in the gymnasium, injuring my neck, and was advised to consult with specialists abroad. (p. 30)
After a very quick visit home with my family in Murom , I departed for Paris. Due to the personal letter from Professor Rosing, I had a very sympathetic reception by Professor Langevin, who willingly accepted me in to his laboratory, assigned me a room, and suggested several problems for me to work on. The first one was to repeat Professor [Max Theodor Felix von] Laue’s experiment of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals, which was just recently published. I did not know anything about X-rays and had never read before about Laue’s work and I doubt that at that moment many knew of the significance and the explanation of the Laue’s effect. Professor Langevin, a wonderful, warmhearted man, was the most outstanding physicist of his time and later received the Nobel Prize. Included in his group were a number of scientists, who eventually distinguished themselves, such as [Louis-César-Victor-Maurice duc] de Broglie (later also a Nobel Prize recipient [confused with Maurice’s younger brother Prince Louis Victor Pierre Raymond duc de Broglie]), [Charles Dillon?] Perine [sic], [Fernand] Holweck, and many others. Each Wednesday, Langevin had informal teas, where we discussed the latest news in physics which was at that time rapidly advancing. Langevin always gave explanations of new developments.
Because of the general practice in the College de France, I had very little guidance from anyone in my work, At the end of the first year, however, I was able to assemble a good set of equipment and reproduce the pictures of X-ray diffraction pattern from various crystals as sharp as anyone had at that time. It was obvious from these results that this was a new and powerful tool to study crystalline structure, and I was eager to design special equipment for that purpose. However, there were no funds available to buy adequate apparatus for my work, and the college was not interested in development of new practical measuring equipment. All I was urged to do was to write a paper describing my work.
The X-ray equipment I used for my experiments was quite powerful and without much shielding. It is surprising that I escaped serious harm, as I saw later happen to many early X-ray operators. The equipment required a periodic cleaning of electrodes with alcohol, which had a tendency to disappear faster than I used it. When I mentioned this to one of the laboratory assistants, he suggested keeping it locked up because the watchman was probably drinking it; he had been observed before drinking alcohol from the biological specimens.
One day, two Russian girl students came to the laboratory; one of them had a needle in her wrist. She asked if I could take an X-ray of it for the doctor, since he had difficulty in locating the needle. (At that time private practitioners did not have X-ray machines in their offices, and few hospitals had them.) Although my equipment was not designed for such a purpose, with slight improvisation I managed to take a good sharp picture which helped the doctor to remove the needle. This was my first contact with medical electronics. (p. 31)
That year (1912) time-signal broadcasting started from the Eiffel Tower [started 1910]. I rigged out a receiver in the laboratory and later in my room in a boarding house, and experimented with various types of detectors. This also was my first contact with radio broadcasting, with which I was later so closely associated.
I began to realize that I was weak in theoretical physics and that, if I wanted to accomplish something, I should do more systematic study, which was quite difficult to do in the completely free atmosphere of the College de France. Thus, I decided to move from France to a more formal German University.
Before leaving Paris, I received permission from my Father to spend my summer vacation in France. At the end of the semester I asked Professor Langevin what type of work he suggest I do during my summer vacation. I expected him to give me a long list of books to read on theoretical physics. He smiled and said he was not sure that I would follow his advice as to what he thought I needed most. I assured him I would and he said, "Go to the railroad ticket office and buy a ticket to south of France." When I asked him where precisely to go, he said it did not matter since, what I needed most, was to improve my French and to spend my time among Frenchmen and not among Russians. I went to the "Gare de Lyon" and asked the girl at the ticket office for a recommendation. This produced much excitement on the other side of the window and all the ticket girls began offering opinions. Their consensus was that I should buy a ticket to Biarritz. However, soon after my arrival at Biarritz I decided it was not the place I would like to stay. It was a very fashionable resort and therefore it was difficult to make an acquaintance. The only occupation besides lying on the beach, was drinking and golfing, neither of which appealed to me. So I moved farther and finally settled in St. Jean de Luz, in the border of Spain, where I spent part of the summer trying faithfully to follow the recommendation of my professor. However, the border of Spain lured me until finally I went over, surprised to find out that my French was practically no good there. One day walking in the street, looking for a place for lunch, I almost collided with a stout gentleman who appeared to be a good eater. I tried my French on him and found that he was also looking for a restaurant and proposed we have lunch together. This was the beginning of a friendship that lasted for quite some time. The gentleman was a Spanish nobleman, evidently without any special occupation, and he was in this part of Spain because he was a fan of Corrida which at that time was performing in the neighborhood. So, under his guidance, I also became a Corrida fan. We would visit the stables and talked with the matadors and espadas. When the Corrida moved to another city, we moved with them. So the rest (p. 32) of my vacation was spent traveling with Mr. [left blank] all over Spain until it was time for me to return to Paris. Since I spoke French throughout my vacation, Professor Langevin complimented me on my improvement in the language.
At this time a good friend and classmate of my brother, Mr. [left blank] who had a business in Berlin, came to Paris. I confided to him my worries about my work at the College de France. On his recommendation and insistence, I applied to the Berlin University and was accepted. So, soon after his visit, I said farewell to Professor Langevin and to my friends, left the College de France, and went to Germany.
I enrolled in Charlottenburg Institute in Berlin to attend lectures in physics and spent part of my time in the Institute and the rest working with Mr. _____ in his bureau of inventions. He was a very prolific inventor and proposed that I help him with his inventions in the mechanical field, which I found to be most interesting. However, this was the spring of 1914. Suddenly, there was war and mobilization. (p. 33)
I would say that by nature I am an optimist, even though I have lived a long time and have seen many things that could have conceivably made me a pessimist. But on the other hand, I believe we can learn a great deal from the historical background of mankind. History teaches us that for thousands and thousands of years humanity had many chances to destroy itself. In every generation, man developed new weapons and new methods of destruction, including the present atomic bomb. But so far, it has never happened. After all these calamities, after all these continuous wars, humanity is still alive and somehow rectifies its mistakes. And so I am sure that these new mistakes, which we are living through now, will be corrected, and man will endure. (p. 34)