Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/756

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736
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Should the proposed laboratory, if established, be independent, or connected with some other institution? That would depend upon a variety of circumstances. If endowed by the United States Government, it surely ought to be connected with and controlled by the Smithsonian Institution. Even an endowment contributed from private sources might well be placed under that management. For the Smithsonian Institution is really a magnificent example of a great trust splendidly administered. Both financially and as regards the interests of science the managers of this institution have done admirably. Money placed in their hands would certainly be well spent. Every dollar would be so handled as to produce the maximum good effect. A laboratory under this control, whether publicly or privately endowed, would assume a national character, and might serve as a centre of coöperation for investigators in all parts of our country.

Leading Washington out of account, a laboratory for research might perhaps be best established in connection with some good university—like Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Michigan, or Cornell. It would then be already provided with a library and a building-lot, some apparatus at least would be ready to hand, and a strong social element would aid in the attraction of scientific men. Moreover, with such affiliations, the laboratory would often be able to secure good volunteer work from advanced or post-graduate students; an advantage by no means to be despised.

But it is hardly worth while to multiply suggestions. Enough has been said to show distinctly the main points in favor of a laboratory specially endowed for research, and some of the chief considerations which must arise in its establishment. Such a laboratory as is here indicated, a laboratory in which many specialists could combine forces in the more difficult fundamental investigations of physical science, surely ought not to remain long a mere fabric of the imagination, a misty dream of the future. It should be founded—whether by an individual or by the nation it matters little. Let us hope that, before many years pass by, the dream may become a reality.

 

THE ORIGIN AND CURIOSITIES OF THE ARABIC NUMERALS.
By D. V. T. QUA.

IN an article on the "Origin of the Numerals," published in The Popular Science Monthly for January, 1876, the writer remarks: "Having never met with any explanation of the origin of the numerals, or rather of the figures symbolizing them, perhaps I am right in supposing that nothing satisfactory is known of it."