Monday, September 15, 2008

Dear Nature

Dear Nature,

I'm doing some historical research and needed to read Chadwick's short paper called Possible Existence of a Neutron where Chadwick posited the existence of the neutron from the radiation emitted by beryllium when an alpha particle hits it. This paper was written in 1932... 76 years ago.

So I go to your web site and you have it available from the archive. That's great! But you want to sell it to me. And you want to sell it to me for $32. How do you justify selling a PDF of a 76 year old paper that contains just over 700 words for$32?

As a point of comparison the neutron was reported in the New York Times in 1932. I was able to buy a copy of that article (all 872 words) for $3.95. But the New York Times is hardly a journal of record for scientists; Nature is. Why are your archives not either free or open for a reasonable fee? Chadwick won the Nobel Prize in 1935 for this discovery and his lecture on the subject is available for free online. But you still insist on$32 (almost a nickel a word) for the original paper.

Perhaps spend part of the $32 on that. PPS. The entire text of Chadwick's article is available on line. Here, here and here. So what does$32 get me? Oh, right, the Nature logo on a PDF.

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