Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 66.djvu/384

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380
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

CONVOCATION WEEK IN PHILADELPHIA.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has been fortunate in its associations with Philadelphia. In our last issue we called attention to the fact that its first meeting was held there in 1848, and it was there again in 1884 that the registered attendance reached its maximum of 1,261, including 303 representatives of the British Association. If we include the members of societies which met in affiliation with the association at the third Philadelphia meeting, held during convocation week in December, the number of scientific men in attendance must be estimated as about 1,200, although only 581 members registered under the several sections of the association. Perhaps there has never been a larger gathering of American workers in science. More significant than mere numbers is the representative character of the men in attendance, the spirit of the convocation as a whole and its influence upon the general public. In all these respects the recent meetings at Philadelphia were eminently successful. There were, in addition to the nine sections of the association which were in session, thirty affiliated societies and scientific clubs, including a majority of the national societies in the exact and natural sciences. More than 500 papers were read, covering even a wider range of topics than the names of the societies would indicate.

The societies were comfortably accommodated in the beautiful buildings of the University of Pennsylvania, many of which were independent objects of interest to visiting members. The material conveniences were but typical of the hospitality which the several societies enjoyed at the hands of the provost, vice-provost and faculty of the university and the local committee. A feature in the entertainment of guests was the lunch provided daily for all in attendance. There were the usual receptions, smokers, etc., and excursions to many places of interest to all scientific men or to special groups, including such important local institutions as the Baldwin Locomotive Works, Cramp's Ship Yard, the United States Mint and the Navy Yard.

The number and variety of papers of popular interest was notable, including discussions of some of the most promising applications of science in invention and industry, in agriculture, in medicine and in social economics. All the societies were fortunate in that the American Association had secured the services of Mr. Theodore Waters, as press secretary, in older to insure more adequate reporting of the meetings than has been possible hitherto. This is an important consideration, as it is assuredly one of the purposes of the association to impress upon the general public the dignity and importance of science. Modern civilization is increasingly dependent on the progress of science, and men of science must profit by the sympathy and support of the public benefiting by their labors. Owing partly to geographical conditions, partly to inadequate organization, though doubtless not wholly to these causes, there is here less public interest and general participation in the annual meetings of the American Association than is the case in England with regard to the British Association. It is evident, however, that our public interest