Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/130

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120
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ment is omitted. Dr. Lister, now Sir Joseph Lister, realizing that inflammation and suppuration of wounds (whether caused by accident or the kindly knife of the surgeon) proceeded from noxious spores settling in exposed parts of the flesh (as taught by Pasteur), arranged methods by which none of these germs might light upon the wound, or, if they did alight, that they might be killed. This, the antiseptic or germicide system, gives the modern surgeon, with the use of anæsthetics, such a command of circumstances that he can amputate a limb or explore interior parts of the body with an impunity almost miraculous. The wound that, in former times, almost inevitably suppurated, is now protected from serving as a fertile ground for germs that but a few years ago would have settled there and multiplied enormously. The presence of these bacteria produced the inflammation, and thereby much of the vital force of the patient was expended in the process of recuperation from a trouble which was but a sequel to the wound. Now, every skillful surgeon protects his patient from these spores, and, binding up the exposed flesh with antiseptic bandages, the wound heals rapidly without secondary symptoms. The existence of inflammatory gangrene in hospitals ought to be forever exorcised.

To religiously prominent men are built shrines, even though they did not perform miracles either during their lives or after death. But there will be no need to visit Lister's tomb; for the almost miraculous benefits he has conferred upon us can be obtained at the uttermost ends of the earth. Votive offerings innumerable might well be made to one who, if not listed among the saints, has rendered an inestimable service to mankind.

The English Government created Dr. Lister a baronet, though he was, in the estimation of many, as deserving of a higher title as any upon whom such honor is conferred. The Germans accepted his teaching promptly and cordially, and, when he visited Germany, awarded him a grand ovation. The American physicians adopted Sir Joseph's ideas, and have, perhaps, improved upon his system. It is now appropriate that the laity of all nations should recognize his most valuable teachings, and raise a sum of money to create, say, an endowment for original research to be named for the baronet.

Yours truly, Horace J. Smith.

Pontresina Switzerland.




EDITOR'S TABLE.


HINDRANCES TO SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS.

AN exceedingly useful address was that delivered this year at Indianapolis, by Prof. T. C. Mendenhall, as retiring President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. We publish it in our present number, and trust it may be widely read and carefully pondered. In Prof. Mendenhall's opinion the relations between the scientific few and the non-scientific many in this country are not as satisfactory as they ought to be. He finds that, though individuals here and there are disposed to be very liberal in the endowing of scientific schools and colleges, and though science is professedly held in very high honor, the community at large hardly seems to know how to distinguish between a true man of science and a dilettante or charlatan. In many cases the latter more easily secures attention and credence than the best qualified scientific specialist. He finds, too, that scientific methods of thought are not permeating the community to the extent that might be expected, considering all that is said in praise of science and the extensive provision that is already made for imparting a knowledge of its principles. What are the obstacles that stand in the way of more favorable results? That is the question which Prof. Mendenhall applies himself to answer. He thinks there are faults both on the scientific and on the non-scientific side; and not being able to deal exhaustively with the whole question, he properly confines himself to indicating the faults with which his own side, the scientific fraternity, may properly be considered chargeable.

The main fault all through, however its phases may vary, is that men of science, or many of them at least, are not sufficiently practical in their views and aims. They allow a great gulf to form between themselves and the non-scien-