The buccaneering 19th Century steel baron Andrew Carnegie spent the last years of his life disbursing his huge fortune in support of education and scientific research – for his native Scotland as for his adopted United States. The Carnegie Institution of Washington, envisaged by its founder as a grant-giving body, rapidly developed into a corporation supporting research laboratories in widely differing scientific fields.

Founded with the broad intention of promoting quantitative methods of physics and chemistry in the solution of geological problems, the Geophysical Laboratory mainly owed its existence to the political skills of the Director of the US Geological...

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