Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 83.djvu/209

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
205
THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE BUREAU OF SCIENCE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS

The annual report of the acting director of the Bureau of Science, maintained under the government of the Philippine Islands, for the year ending with July, 1912, has just reached this country, and bears witness to the accomplishment of a considerable amount of scientific work. It might be better if the native peoples were permitted to follow their natural lines of development, but scientific investigation and the common schools are probably better for them than the rule of the Spanish friars. In any case, the serious efforts made by the Bureau of Science to investigate the natural history and natural resources of the islands and the tropical diseases that occur there will be of value to the world at large. Government and investigations in a tropical country, however, can be carried forward only at a heavy cost, and we should probably adopt the English policy of paying large salaries and permitting early retirement on a pension.

The present report gives evidence of the difficulty of maintaining a scientific staff. Dr. Paul C. Freer, director of the Bureau of Science from the time of its organization as the Bureau of Government Laboratories in the year 1901, dean of the college of medicine, and professor of chemistry in the University of the Philippines, died last year. The important work that he accomplished in advancing science and education was thus paid for at a heavy price. Several others of the most active workers in the bureau have returned to the United States, and just now Dr. Richard P. Strong, chief of the biological laboratory, has accepted a chair of tropical medicine in the Harvard Medical School.

During the year a new wing was added to the laboratory building, as shown in the foreground of the accompanying illustration. The division of mines, the sections of fisheries and ornithology, the entomological section and laboratories and the library were moved into it. The room in the main building vacated by the library now contains the herbarium, and other rooms left vacant by the readjustments are occupied by laboratories and for clerical work.

The amount of research work accomplished by the bureau is born witness to by The Philippine Journal of Science, established by Dr. Freer. It is published in four sections—one devoted to the chemical and geological sciences and to the industries, one to tropical medicine, one to botany and one to general biology, ethnology and anthropology. During the year under review, there were published in these sections of the journal about one hundred articles, most of them by members of the staff of the Bureau of Science. Among the work published or to be published in the Journal may be noted the proceedings of the International Plague Conference at Mukden in 1911, of which Dr. Strong and Dr. Teague were members. Experiments have been carried on in several directions, including work on beri-beri, surra and entamœbic dysentery. In the botanical section additions have been made to the herbarium which now numbers over 100,000 specimens, but apparently no very great amount of field work has been done. The division of entomology has done economic work in promoting silk culture and has carried on campaigns to exterminate the mosquito and other disease-bearing insects. The section of fisheries has studied shells used in the manufacture of buttons, tortoise shells, the shark-fin industry and the manufacture of leather from the skins of marine animals. Something, but apparently not much, has been accomplished in stocking the streams with game fish and in the