“The latest book by H.G. Wells, The World Set Free, is at once one of those magnificent flights of imagination and keen sociological perceptions. The atomic bomb that plays so great a part in this story, although a creation of Mr. Wells, may be regarded as inspired by Frederick Soddy’s The Interpretation of Radium (1909). Wells argues that inasmuch as radioactive substances are constantly decaying and giving off energy as they do so, tremendous results could be obtained if the decay could occur with explosive rapidity. Trained scientist as he is, he presents his atomic bomb with an air of definiteness and conclusiveness that almost convinces one it exists.”
—Scientific American, May 1914
More gems from Scientific American’s first 175 years can be found on our shiny anniversary page.