Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/223

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211
REQUIREMENTS OF SCIENTIFIC EDUCATION.

to assail more successfully with our few hands the natural obstacles and the natural resources of a mighty continent; how to build up on the area of that continent a prosperous nation, united in varied, fruitful, and harmonious industries, glowing with patriotism and inspired by religion.

In this work we need specially the basis of a more thorough technical institution, applying principles of science to the material and economical problems involved. This education is necessary to supply the directing forces for the great agricultural, manufacturing, and engineering improvements of the country. It is also needed as a solvent and remedy for the antagonism between labor and capital. The true protection of labor will be found in its higher education, and in opening to the individual laborer for himself and for his children, by means of that education, a prospect of indefinite improvement and advancement.

In the realm of metallurgical and engineering operations the difference between theoretical and practical training is, perhaps, still more striking. The student of chemistry in the laboratory cannot be made acquainted with many of the conditions which obtain in chemical and metallurgical operations upon a larger scale. All the chemists of the world failed to comprehend or to describe correctly the apparently simple reactions involved in the manufacture of pig-iron, until, by the genius and enterprise of such men as Bell, Tanner, and Akerman, the blast-furnace itself, in the conditions of actual practice, was penetrated and minutely studied. Moreover, in all the experimental inquiries of the laboratory the question of economy plays no part. It is the art of separating and combining substances which the student follows there, not the art of making money. That education of judgment and decision, of choice of means for ends which the exigencies of daily practice give, cannot be imparted in the school.

In mechanical engineering the same principle is illustrated. The highest department in this art is that of construction, and in this department the highest function is the designing of machinery. Now, the most perfect knowledge of the theory of a machine and its mathematical relations, of the strength of materials, or the economical use of power, will not suffice to qualify a man to design a machine or a system of machines, for the reason that in this work an element must be considered not at all included in theoretical knowledge, namely, the element of economy in the manufacture, as well as in the operation of the machine. A machine, any part of which requires for its manufacture a tool (such, for instance, as a peculiar lathe) which is not already possessed by the manufacturer, and which, after the construction of this one part, would not be necessary or useful for other work—such a machine could not be profitably built. In other words, machines must be so designed, in a large majority of cases, as not to necessitate the construction of other machines to make them; and the