1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/International Science
INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE.—International scientific organizations and conventions may be divided into four groups according to their subjects and methods of procedure. Some are intended to establish uniformity in the standards of measurements, others to advance science by coöperation, and others, again, merely to encourage personal interchange of opinion. The second group, having scientific progress for its direct objective, may be further subdivided into two, according as the coöperation is essential to secure necessary observations in different parts of the world, or is only helpful by promoting coördination and therefore economy of labour.
In the years before the World War, it was customary, for scientific purposes, to form a new international body whenever the need arose a procedure which was natural and effective so long as each subject could be treated separately without relation to others. The disadvantages of an almost indefinite multiplication of independent bodies dealing with mutually connected subjects had, however, become apparent, and as the World War was nearing its end, efforts were made to organize international coöperation in scientific research on a better basis.
The following list (probably not complete) of the international bodies that were in existence at the outbreak of war in 1914 will give an idea of the range of subjects covered:—
Group I.—Agreements on standards and methods of observation:—
|1.||Commission Métrique Internationale, and Bureau International des Poids et Mesures.|
|2.||International Committee of Electrical Units and Standards.|
|3.||International Electro-Technical Committee.|
|4.||International Association for Testing Materials.|
|5.||International Committee on Atomic Weights.|
|6.||Comité International pour la Publication annuelle de Table de Constantes Physico-chimiques.|
|7.||Commission on Illumination.|
|8.||Conférences Internationales des Ephémérides Astronomiques.|
|9.||International Meteorological Committee.|
|10.||International Solar Union (see also Group II., 7).|
|11.||International Telegraphic Union.|
|12.||Agreements on Radio-telegraphy.|
|13.||Bureau International de l'Heure.|
Group II.—Associations formed for the purpose of investigating scientific problems in which coöperation between different nations is considered desirable:—
|2.||Association of Seismology.|
|3.||Interchange of News concerning Astronomical Occurrences.|
|4.||International Agriculture Institute.|
|5.||International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.|
|7.||Solar Union (see also Group I., 10).|
|8.||Scientific Sub-Committees of the International Meteorological Committee.|
|9.||International Committee for the Investigation of the Brain.|
Group III.—Distribution of work bearing on the same problem for the purpose of economizing time and expenditure:—
|2.||Carte Internationale du Monde au Millionième.|
|3.||International Catalogue of Scientific Literature.|
Group IV.—Periodic International Congresses serving mainly for friendly interchange of views:—
|4.||Mining, Metallurgy, Engineering and Economic Geology.|
An effort, emanating from Belgium, had been to centralize all international undertakings, and an “Office Central des Institutions Internationales” was established at Brussels. On of the publications of this office, which received no general recognition, gives what purports to be a complete list of international congresses, unions and associations. Their total number is 279, but many of them were of a social or semi-political or trade character. Among those referring to science the following are not already included in the above list:—
|1.||Association Internationale des Catholiques pour le Progrès de la Science.|
|2.||Alliance Scientifique Universelle.|
|3.||Office International de Documentation Aéronautique.|
|4.||Commission Permanente du Répertoire Bibliographique International des Sciences Mathématiques.|
|5.||Institut International de Statistique.|
|6.||Comité Maritime International.|
|7.||Comité Juridique International de l'Aviation.|
|8.||Association Internationale d'Agronomie tropicale.|
|9.||Commission Internationale pour l'Enseignement des Sciences Mathématiques.|
|10.||Association Internationale pour Promouvoir l'Étude des Quaternions.|
|11.||Association Internationale des Chimistes des Industries de Cuir.|
|12.||Commission Internationale pour l'Étude de la Question l'Unification des Méthodes d'Analysis des Denrées alimentaires.|
|13.||Bureau International d'Ethnographie.|
|14.||Association Internationale des Botanistes.|
|15.||Comité Ornithologique International.|
|16.||Association Internationale des Anatomistes.|
|17.||Commission Internationale Permanente de Détermination des Phénomènes psycho-biologiques et socio-biologiques.|
|18.||Office International d'Hygiène Publique.|
|19.||International Sanitary Bureau.|
|20.||Secretariat International pour l'Unification des Pharmacopées.|
|21.||Association Climatologique Internationale.|
|22.||Association Internationale contre la Tuberculose.|
|23.||Union Internationale des Stations Électriques.|
|24.||Bureau International des Administrations Télégraphiques.|
|25.||Association Internationale Permanente des Congres de Navigation.|
|26.||Association Scientifique Internationale d'Agronomie Coloniale.|
|27.||Union Internationale des Stations de Recherches Forestières.|
|28.||Union Internationale de Photographie.|
|29.||Institut International de Photographie.|
|30.||Association Internationale des Explorateurs Polaires.|
|31.||Institut Polaire International.|
|32.||Laboratoire International de Physiologie du Mont Rose.|
With regard to the origin and aims of some of the most important of these organizations, the following notes may be added.
1. The “Bureau International des Poids et Mesures” was established in 1873 at Sèvres as the outcome of an international commission constituted in 1869 for the construction of metric standards. The existing convention was agreed upon in 1875. Great Britain joined the convention in 1884; the annual contribution now ranges between £200 and £300.
2. The International Conference on Electrical Units and Standards which was held in London in 1908 recommended that the various Governments interested should establish a Permanent International Commission for Electrical Standards. The conference requested Lord Rayleigh, then president, to nominate a Scientific Committee of 15 members to formulate a plan of such commission and, in the meantime, to direct such work as would be necessary in connexion with the maintenance and inter-comparison of standards. This committee has done much valuable work, but the intended Permanent Commission never came into being.
3. The International Electrotechnical Commission was formed for the purpose of carrying out a resolution of government delegates who met at the International Electrical Congress of St. Louis in 1904. This resolution was to the effect: “That steps should be taken to secure the coöperation of the technical societies of the world by the appointment of a representative commission to consider the question of the standardization of the nomenclature and ratings of electrical apparatus and machinery.” The statutes of this commission were finally adopted at a meeting held in London on Oct. 22 1908. They provide for the formation by the Sectional Societies of each country of committees who shall represent that country on the International Commission. The central office is in London. Each Electrotechnical Committee provides funds for its own expenses, and contributes its share to the expenses of the central office. At the last meeting of the commission in Berlin before the war (1913) 24 countries were represented.
4. International Association for Testing Material.—Six international congresses were held between 1884 and 1912 with the view of introducing greater uniformity in the methods of testing materials adopted in different countries. At the last two pre-war congresses (Copenhagen, 1909, and New York, 1912) England was represented. The resolutions of the congresses ar not binding on anyone, and merely serve to express the opinion of the majority. Nevertheless, the work of this organization has become of considerable importance. After the congress of 1912 a report of the British delegates advocating that the British Government should continue its official support was laid on the table of the House of Commons.
5. Joint International Committee on Atomic Weights.—This committee grew out of an organization formed by the leading chemical societies in Europe and America. It was finally constituted in 1901-2, when the business of the committee was entrusted to four men, being representatives of the chemical societies of America, England, France and Germany respectively. The object of this committee was to draw up annual reports on work connected with the determination of atomic weights, to consider the results, and to recommend any changes in the Tables of Atomic Weights which might seem desirable for promoting uniformity in teaching and in the literature of the subject. These reports were published each year until the beginning of the war.
6. Annual Publication of Tables of Physical and Chemical Constants.—This is an undertaking with its headquarters at Paris, managed by an International Committee. Special committees have also been instituted in different countries (France, England, Germany, Holland, United States) to assist the work.
7. International Commission of Illumination.—The object of this organization, formed by scientific societies in different countries, was “to study and advance by congress and publications the knowledge and practice of the art of illumination, and to secure international agreement on matters of general concern to the science and art of illumination.”
8. There were two important “Conférences Internationales des Ephémérides Astronomiques,” one in 1896, which established greater uniformity in the adopted constants, such as that of the solar parallax and aberration, and one in 1912, which arranged for collaboration in different countries.
9. The International Meteorological Conference and Committee.—Beginning with 1891, the directors of the meteorological institutes and observatories of different countries met periodically in “conference,” normally every ten years. The functions of the conference are to propose measures of coöperation likely to prove helpful to the development of meteorology, to bring about uniformity of ideas, and to foster good relations between the workers of different countries. The conference appoints, when it deems necessary, commissions with independent powers to promote the study of special subjects. In addition to the purely meteorological commissions appointed by the conference, there were, at the outbreak of the war, five others concerned respectively with (a) Scientific Aeronautics, (b) Terrestrial Magnetism, (c) Radiations, (d) Solar Physics, and (e) the Application of Meteorology to Agriculture.
10. The International Solar Union was an association of scientific bodies. Of these, three were domiciled in the United States, three in France, two each in Great Britain, Italy, Spain and Germany, one each in Austria, Canada, Holland, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland. Meetings were held every three years, and the business in the meantime was carried out by an Executive Committee of three members only. So far as fundamental measurements are concerned, the Solar Union has, by means of its members working independently in different countries, determined secondary standards of wavelength spread over different parts of the spectrum. It has also, through a number of committees, investigated questions relating to sunspot spectra and solar radiation. In 1913 the union decided to extend its range so as to include the whole of stellar physics.
11. The “International Telegraphic Union,” an institution having its “bureau” at Berne, and maintained by subscriptions from the States adhering to the union. Occasional conferences were held which led to “conventions,” of which a number are in force. The bureau issues a monthly bulletin—“Le Journal Télégraphique.” The union was an official rather than a scientific body, the delegates of the conferences being selected from the clerical staff of the Telegraph Office for Great Britain and its colonies.
13. Bureau International de l'Heure.—At an International Conference summoned by the “Bureau des Longitudes” of Paris in 1912, the following resolutions were passed:—
“1. Il est utile de chercher à réaliser l'unification de l'heure.
“2. L'heure universelle sera celle de Greenwich.
“3. Il sera utile de créer une Commission Internationale de l'Heure.”
A provisional committee was formed to give effect to the last of these resolutions, and statutes were prepared in which the objects of the International Commission were defined as follows:—“To unify the ‘hour’ by radio-telegraphic signals or otherwise, whether for the purpose of scientific objects of high precision, or to supply the ordinary needs of navigation, meteorology, seismology, railway traffic, the postal and telegraphic services, public administration, watch-makers, private individuals, etc.” An International Bureau was to be established providing for scientific assistants charged with the conduct of special researches. The cost was to be divided between the States forming the union either through their governments or some scientific body. The proposed statutes were submitted to the meeting of the International Association of Academies held in 1913 at St. Petersburg and received their unanimous support. The outbreak of the war prevented further action.
1. The International Geodetic Association was formed by 21 contributing States and has an annual income of nearly £3,000, the subscription for the larger States being £300. According to its convention, which held for 12 years at a time, and was renewable, the Prussian Geodetic Institute at Potsdam was its Central Bureau. Its president, vice-president, and secretary belonged to different countries, and retained their position for the duration of the convention, which lapsed in 1916. Its most useful work dealt with the standardization and comparison of pendulums for gravity measurements. In later years it devoted itself almost entirely to investigations on changes of latitude.
2. The International Seismological Association was formed in 1903 on the pattern of the Geodetic Convention, the Imperial Seismological Station at Strassburg being selected as the Central Bureau. France, the United States and Great Britain at first refused to join this association, and the International Association of Academies appointed a committee to suggest such alterations in the proposed convention as would enable these countries to take part in the work. The principal changes proposed and ultimately accepted were: (1) that Strassburg should not necessarily remain the Central Bureau, the selection of its domicile being left to the triennial meetings, (2) that the president should only hold office for three years, (3) that a State may join through one of its scientific societies, and not necessarily through its Government, and (4) that the correspondence between the president and the organizations in each State be carried out through the secretary of the association and not through diplomatic channels as originally provided. The United States joined as soon as these changes were accepted; France and Great Britain a few years later. The organization then consisted of 20 States, with an annual income of £1,700; the larger States contributing £160 annually. The principal functions of the bureau were to receive and distribute information and to publish systematic lists of earthquakes. Part of the funds was used in paying scientific workers appointed by the association for the purpose of carrying out special researches. The convention lapsed in 1915.
3. International Commission for the Telegraphic Distribution of Astronomical Information.—This was to begin with a body consisting of the directors of the principal astronomical observatories in Europe and America, which arranged for the telegraphic distribution of astronomical information. The preliminary arrangements were confirmed by a meeting of astronomers held in Vienna in 1883, when formal statutes for the future conduct of the work were adopted. The headquarters of the organization were at Kiel. The office and working expenses were met by subscriptions from the observatories receiving the information. These were originally fixed at 6 annually, but were subsequently reduced owing to the facilities given by cable companies, which transmit a certain number of messages without charge.
4. The International Permanent Agricultural Institute.—This was the outcome of an international meeting held at Rome during 1905 on the invitation of the King of Italy. The institute has its permanent seat at Rome, and its constitution follows lines similar to those of other international conventions. The principal object of the institute is to collect, publish and disseminate statistical information relating to agriculture, to notify new diseases in plants, and to present, if expedient, to the Governments, for their approval, measures for the protection of the common interests of agriculturists. Questions relating to the economic interests of States are excluded.
5. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.—This was constituted in 1902 as a result of discussions held at conferences meeting in Stockholm and Christiania in 1899 and 1901 respectively. It confined itself to questions relating to sea fisheries in N.-European seas, and developed as an economic and political, rather than a scientific, movement. The headquarters were at Copenhagen. The countries originally adhering to the convention were Denmark, Germany, England, Finland, Holland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. The first convention was made for five years, but annual meetings continued to be held. A number of committees were appointed to deal with different branches of the work. Large sums of money were spent on the work; the total contribution of England amounted to £70,000 (£14,000 annually).
6. The Marey Institute.—This institute was founded by M. Marey for the standardization and improvement of instruments used in physiological researches. Its laboratory is at Paris, and its work is controlled by an International Committee. The French Government contributed annually 25,000 fr., and the Swiss Government 1,000 fr. In addition, occasional money contributions were made by the academies of Paris, Leipzig, and St. Petersburg, as well as the Royal Society and the university of London.
7 and 8. The Solar Union and the Scientific Sub-Committees of the International Meteorological Committee are entered both under Groups I. and II., because their activity includes to a considerable degree scientific investigation as well as standardization.
1. The International Astrographic Chart.—The idea of forming a detailed photographic chart of the heavens originated with the late Sir David Gill, but the organization for its practical execution was mainly due to the efforts of Adml. Mouchez, who at the time was director of the Paris observatory. Its programme of work was determined upon at an international conference held in Paris in 1887. The photographs were taken at 18 observatories, of which six were in Great Britain and its colonies, four in France and its colonies, two in Italy, one each in Germany, Finland and Chile. Each country paid the expenses of its own observatories.
2. Carte Internationale du Monde au Millionième.—The proposal to issue a map of the world on a uniform plan was initiated at a conference held in London in 1910. In this conference only those countries took part who were represented by ambassadors at the Court of St. James. A second conference, in which other countries also took part, was held at Paris in Dec. 1913. Further details with regard to the construction of the map were settled, and it was resolved that a permanent central office should be established in England for the communication of data, interchange of information, and the publication of an annual report. The headquarters of the office are at the Ordnance Survey, Southampton.
3. The International Catalogue of Scientific Literature.—This catalogue, which begins with the year 1901, has its central office in London. Twenty-nine countries (counting the four Australian colonies separately) participate in the work, and most of them have established Regional Bureaux for the preliminary work of preparing the slips which are transmitted to England. The annual expenses before the war were approximately covered by the guarantees of different countries, which took the form of subscriptions for copies of the work, and the independent sales.
Sufficient has now been said to illustrate the variety both in method of work and constitution of the great number of International Unions that had gradually come into existence before the World War. The freedom from tradition and convention with which scientific men interested in a particular subject combined together for a common object had undoubted advantages, as each combination could adopt the constitution best suited to its needs. But there were serious drawbacks. One was the multiplication of bodies. The above list includes five independent organizations dealing with divisions of astronomy. Though they concerned themselves with well-defined branches of the subject, and did not interfere with each other, the great increase in the number of meetings that had to be attended by the same men at different times and in different parts of the world called for some kind of unification. The formation of a more comprehensive body dealing with the whole of astronomy became, for this reason alone, almost inevitable. Then there was the question of funds, which could only be obtained with increasing difficulty, unless some particular Government showed a special and not always altruistic interest in the subject, and attained its object by diplomatic pressure. The International Geodetic Association was brought into existence through diplomatic agencies, and its constitution was vitiated by a not very effective but nevertheless annoying attempt at Government control. It was provided, for instance, that correspondence between the president and the scientific organizations in each State should only be carried out through diplomatic channels, and the association could not itself determine the seat of its Central Bureau. The delegates at the meeting were appointed by the Governments, and often received definite instructions beforehand with regard to their vote. Similar provisions were made originally in the case of the International Association of Seismology, and were abandoned only as a concession to France, England and the United States, who made this a condition of their joining.
It had been hoped at one time that a combination of the leading academies of different countries would help in systematizing international efforts. In the year 1899 a meeting was held at Wiesbaden at which representatives of the principal scientific and literary academies discussed the formation of an International Association of Academies, and drafted statutes for such an association. The proceedings at the meeting having been ratified by the bodies concerned, the association was formed and held five meetings at triennial intervals (Paris 1901; London 1904; Vienna 1907; Rome 1910; and St. Petersburg 1913). Twenty-four academies ultimately formed part of the association, though two of them (the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Finnish Academy of Helsingfors), having only been elected in 1913, never took an active part in the work. The declared object of the association was “to prepare and promote scientific enterprises (travaux scientifiques) of general interest, proposed by one of the Associated Academies, and tc facilitate in a general way scientific intercourse between different countries.” The attitude of this new body towards other international organizations was discussed at the meeting held at London in 1904 when the following resolution was passed by 19 votes against one:—
“That the initiation of any new international organization, to be maintained by subventions from the different states, demands careful previous examination into the value and objects of such organization, and that it is desirable that proposals to establish such organizations should be considered by the International Association of Academies before definite action is taken.”
This resolution only applied to the initiation of new organizations, as the Association of Academies could not claim to exercise any control over the large number that were already in operation. Nevertheless, it was hoped that it might promote coördination by suggestion and advice.
The Association of Academies included the humanistic well as the scientific branches of knowledge. It would be easy to point out some valuable undertakings carried out by this body, but the sum total of its effective influence was disappointing. In view of the later period of reconstruction it is necessary to allude to the main source of its weakness. Owing to the limitations of their membership and the great subdivision of our present knowledge, the great academies of the world have lost some of their former authority, which has passed into the hands of specialized societies. While still supreme in questions of general policy, they cannot supply by themselves alone such detailed knowledge as is required in international work.
This then was the position when the World War broke out, and scientific coöperation in peaceful pursuits was inevitably in abeyance. In due course the work of reconstructing it on new lines had to be taken in hand. Informal correspondence between the secretaries of the Royal Society and the Paris Academy of Sciences was interrupted by the death of M. Darboux, a man of great experience and sound judgment combined with a wide and generous outlook. Its resumption after a short interval led to a conference of representatives of the scientific academies in the Allied countries which was held in London on Oct. 11 1918. There were two guiding principles underlying the resolutions arrived at. The first was that no results could be hoped for from any international organization necessitating friendly coöperation and personal intercourse between former belligerents until sufficient time had elapsed for the strong resentment engendered by the initiation and conduct of the war to subside; the second motive was not to lose the favourable opportunity of reconstructing the whole of the international work, by substituting a logical system for the haphazard jumble of conventions and agreements to which its spasmodic historical growth had led. It was the second as much as the first consideration which necessitated a lengthened period for the exclusion of enemy interests which were mainly responsible for the older organizations, some of these having been largely under Government control. For reasons already given, the academies had to recognize that, though they could properly be the organizing authorities, the controlling body in each country would have to be of a more representative character. The main principles were embodied in the following resolutions, which, it will be seen, make special provision for the administrative relations between public services in which coöperation of enemy countries would naturally be resumed after the declaration of peace:—
1. That it is desirable that the nations at war with the Central Powers withdraw from the existing conventions relating to International Scientific Associations in accordance with the statutes or regulations of such conventions respectively, as soon as circumstances permit; and that new associations deemed to be useful to the progress of science and its applications be established without delay by the nations at war with the Central Powers with the eventual coöperation of neutral nations.
2. That certain associations, such as the Metric Convention, depending on diplomatic agreements, be taken into consideration during the peace negotiations.
3. It is not intended that these measures be applied to agreements relating to indispensable administrative relations between public services, such as those regulating navigation, meteorological telegrams, railways, telegraphs, etc.
4. A committee of inquiry be constituted by the conference, the academies of the countries at war with the Central Powers having power to add further members. This committee shall prepare a general scheme of international organizations to meet the requirements of the various branches of scientific and industrial research, including those relating to national defence.
5. Each of the academies represented at the conference shall be invited to initiate the formation of a National Council for the promotion of the researches specified in resolution 4.
6. An International Council, having as nucleus the committee specified in resolution 4, shall be formed by the federation of the National Councils.
7. The conference, being of opinion that all industrial, agricultural and medical progress depends on pure science, draws the attention of the various Governments to the importance of theoretical and disinterested researches, which after the restoration of peace should be supported by large endowments. The conference urges similarly the creation of large laboratories for experimental science, both private and national.
At a further meeting, held at Paris at the end of Nov. 1918, representatives of the following countries were present: Belgium, Brazil, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Poland, Rumania, Serbia and the United States of America. The delegates of Greece and Portugal were prevented from attending. The meeting confirmed the London resolutions and discussed the methods of giving effect to them. A committee of five delegates, representing Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy and the United States respectively, was appointed to make more definite proposals for the proposed organizations, and the International Research Council was finally constituted at a meeting held at Brussels in July 1919. In the meantime the Treaty of Peace with Germany had been drafted. Article 282 of this treaty, as ultimately ratified, runs as follows:—“From the coming into force of the present Treaty, and subject to the provisions thereof, the Multilateral Treaties, Conventions and Agreements of an economic and technical character enumerated below and in the subsequent articles shall alone be applied as between Germany and those of the Allied and Associated Powers party thereto.” The list of 26 conventions and agreements which form the exceptions contains only two of the scientific organizations with which we are here concerned, viz. (20), convention of May 20 1875, regarding the unification and improvement of the metric system, and (23) convention of June 7 1905, regarding the creation of an International Agricultural Institute at Rome. It would appear from this that Germany must be considered to have withdrawn from all other scientific organizations, at any rate from those which had received Government support. This view is further confirmed by Article 24 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, according to which:—
There shall be placed under the direction of the League all international bureaux already established by general treaties if the parties to such treaties consent. All such international bureaux and all commissions for the regulation of matters of international interest hereafter constituted shall be placed under the direction of the League.
In all matters of international interest which are regulated by general conventions but which are not placed under the control of international bureaux or commissions, the Secretariat of the League shall, subject to the consent of the council and if desired by the parties, collect and distribute all relevant information and shall render any other assistance which may be necessary or desirable.
The council may include as part of the expenses of the secretariat the expenses of any bureau or commission which is placed under the direction of the League.
It is a reasonable interpretation of this article that so long as Germany remained excluded from the League of Nations it was not intended to give financial support to international organizations of which Germany formed a part. The way seemed therefore open to reconstruct international scientific work unhampered by the agreements that existed before the war.
A full report of the Proceedings of the Brussels Conference having been published (Harrison & Sons, London), it is only necessary here to outline the general organization that was agreed upon. The objects of the International Research Council, which was now constituted, are defined as follows:—
(1) To coördinate international efforts in the different branches of science and its applications.
(2) To initiate the formation of international associations or unions deemed to be useful to the progress of science in accordance with Article I. of the resolutions adopted at the Conference of London, Oct. 1918 (see page 17 of this report).
(3) To direct international scientific activity in subjects which do not fall within the purview of any existing international associations.
(4) To enter through the proper channels into relation with the Governments of the countries adhering to the International Research Council in order to promote investigations falling within the competence of the Council.
It should be noticed that, once an international association has been formed, it becomes autonomous and is independent of the parent body, subject only to the approval of its statutes and the conditions laid down for admission. The statutes exclude the Central Powers, and lay down a majority of three-quarters for the admission of all but the specified belligerent countries; but so far as countries neutral during the war are concerned, the provision is dealt with by the unanimous invitation extended to them. The following countries had joined the International Research Council by May 1921:—Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Greece, Holland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Monaco, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom.
The statutes remain in force until Dec. 1931, but can be altered at any time with the approval of two-thirds of the adhering countries. Different countries have voting powers according to their contributions, which depend on their population. Self-governing dominions count as independent States.
In addition to the International Research Council, unions were definitely constituted to organize international work in astronomy, geodesy and geophysics and chemistry. In each case the adhering countries constitute National Committees to superintend their part of the work. These National Committees are formed according to the decision of each country, under the responsibility either of its principal academy, or of its National Research Council (where such exists), or of some other national institution or association of institutions, or of its Government.
While the academies of most countries have been satisfied with nominating National Committees on a representative basis for the special purpose of organizing the international work, the United States has established a National Research Council, which is subdivided according to subjects, and which deals with national as well as international activities.
In extensive subjects covering a large range such as astronomy and geophysics, subdivision into groups is necessary, but each union adopts the methods that appear to them to be most effective. While astronomy works through as many as 32 standing committees, the Union of Geodesy and Geophysics has divided itself into six sections, comprising (a) geodesy, (b) seismology, (c) meteorology, (d) terrestrial magnetism and electricity, (e) physical oceanography, and (f) vulcanology.
In addition to the three unions which were actually brought into being at the time, the conference at Brussels formulated proposals for adding unions in the following subjects: mathematics, physics, scientific radio-telegraphy, geology, biological sciences, geography and, finally, bibliography and documentation. The first of these was subsequently constituted at a meeting held in Strassburg, and already counts many countries as adherents. The unions of physics and scientific radio-telegraphy also received substantial support, and it was expected in May 1921 that they would probably be constituted shortly. It seems probable that the international work, which is now established on a sufficiently uniform system to avoid overlapping and waste, while allowing complete liberty of organization within their respective spheres, will in future be carried out as efficiently as is possible in a domain which presents so many inherent difficulties.
In conclusion, and in order to avoid any misunderstanding or misapprehension as regards the general attitude of international science towards research, a declaration of policy which was adopted at the Paris Conference of Nov. 1918 may be quoted:—“The International Research Council recognizes that all great advances in science are initiated by individual efforts, and that it has become increasingly necessary to encourage these efforts. It includes, therefore, within its functions the task of actively encouraging all endeavours to supply the means and freedom necessary to those capable of conducting scientific researches of a high order.” (A. S.*)
- Cf. Sir James Wolfe-Barry, “Forrest” Lecture of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Appendix v. (1917).