The charge of speaking after five such orators as have preceded me is not a light one, and yet is an assignment which should be treated lightly. The hands of the clock are joyously advancing toward the cocktail hour, and they advise me to pervert the famous words beneath a clock in San Francisco and say to myself, “Son, observe the time and fly from wisdom.” The organizers of this meeting actually proposed that I should speak under the title “The Whole of Physics”. Apart of course from my predecessors on this platform, the last man who could probably have done this was Hermann von Helmholtz. It interests me to realize that there are people still living who studied under Helmholtz; they are the last of our contacts with the era of omniscience. The wishes of the organizers will be formally fulfilled if I succeed in saying nothing that is more irrelevant to any one field of physics than to any other. This condition I will attempt to meet.

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