Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 84.djvu/105

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101
THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE ANNIVERSARY MEETING OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY

At the anniversary meeting of the Royal Society held on December 1, Sir William Crookes was elected to the presidency in succession to Sir Archibald Geikie. As a change in this office is made only once in five years, election to it is the highest honor for a British man of science, the immediate predecessors of Sir Archibald Geikie having been Sir William Huggins, Lord Lister, Lord Rayleigh and Lord Kelvin, a roll of scientific distinction which it would be difficult to parallel. Sir William Crookes was born in 1832, and thus belongs to the group of great men of the Victorian era. As long ago as 1862 he discovered thallium, and the weighing of this element in a vacuum led to the construction of the radiometer and to researches on the phenomena produced by the discharge of electricity through the exhausted tubes to which his name has been given. In his theory of radiant matter, he anticipated the electron theory. He has continued his researches with unabated vigor. In his presidential address before the British Association in 1898 he announced the discovery of monium and in connection with his work on the rare earths developed a theory of the evolution of the elements. Even since the discovery of radium he has made important researches, inventing the spinthariscope, which exhibits the results of radium emanation on a screen.

The report of the council and the address of the president review the work of the society. The government gives the society rooms at Burlington House and two grants, one of £4,000 for scientific researches and one of £1,000 for publication. The society is, however, only a trustee to award the grant for scientific research, and, as Sir Archibald Geikie pointed out, the funds of the society are not commensurate with the work it accomplishes. The Catalogue of Scientific Papers, supported mainly by gifts from the late Ludwig Mond, and the International Catalogue of Scientific Literature are expensive enterprises. The tenth annual issue of the International Catalogue has been published, with the exception of the volumes on physiology and bacteriology. A meeting of the International Council will be held in 1914, at which it will be necessary to consider seriously the question of continuing the catalogue. The society received last year the bequest made by Lord Lister of about $45,000 and a gift of $25,000 from Sir James Caird to be used in five yearly disbursements for the furtherance of physical research.

At the anniversary dinner the principal toast, that of "The Royal Society" was proposed by Mr. Page, the American ambassador. He suggested that the explanation of the bankruptcy of great literature might be the rise of science, which had changed all our outlook on the world, and had for the first time made us feel at home in this life and unafraid, had for the moment thrown men of great artistic power somewhat out of the use of their powers. It was a pleasing thought, he said, to suppose that some member of that society, or some similar body, might make a new era by the production of great literature, because the great literature of the future must take account of and must be shaped by the view of life under the dispensation of men of science. Sir Ray Lankester and Sir Harold Dixon responded for the medallists; the former having received the Copley medal and the latter one of the royal