Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/866

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ing it to himself, applies it to a practical use, and then patents it for his own profit, the act qualifies the motive as selfish and sordid, and of the lowest kind. The writer in "Science" maintains that where an invention is tacked on to a discovery, the compound result must he superior to its separate elements. But invention is not science, and can not count in ranking scientific achievement. Rank is here determined solely by the elevation or the degradation of the motives by which men are impelled to research. Davy made discoveries in combustion which enabled him to # invent the safety-lamp, but he at once gave it freely to the world. Dr. Wollaston discovered the malleability of platinum, and devised the means of producing it on a commercial scale, but he kept his inventions a secret and acquired great wealth by them. The two transactions, however, are ranked in scientific history as of two orders, and as widely apart as generosity is from greed.

Inventions are excellent things, and we have certainly no objection to patenting them; but, as we have said before, they are not parts of science, and when introduced in connection with the work of scientific discovery they serve only to mark the lower purpose for which it is pursued. We are not responsible for this mixing up of patent rights with science, and protest against the use of them to magnify utility, and cast virtual disparagement upon the highest motives of scientific investigation. The writer upon "The Future of American Science" identifies the interests of invention with those of science in a way that antiquates the simpleminded devotee to truth for its own sake. He says: "The inventive genius of this country is pre-eminent. We reap the benefits of it on every side. Our houses are more comfortable, our railways more safe, our fabrics cheaper, and our education more thorough, because of useful inventions. Becoming restive at the slow progress of discovery, the inventor has himself assumed the rôle of investigator; and the results of his researches appear in the records of the Patent-Office. In the olden times, the investigator was content to make his discoveries, and to publish them, consecrating to science the knowledge thus obtained. His more modern representative carefully treasures what he has discovered until he has exhausted its practical application. In consequence, the discoveries upon which many of the most important scientific inventions of the day rest will be searched for in vain in scientific literature. The telegraph, the telephone, and the electric light are inventions which illustrate the fact now stated in an eminent degree."

The significance of the new departure, which substitutes the lowest for the highest inducement to scientific labor, is here sufficiently apparent. It is the old fogy of "the olden times" that was content "to make his discoveries, and to publish them"; it is his wide-awake "modern representative" that keeps his results to himself until he can turn them to the purposes of private speculation, through the agency of the Patent-Office. But if it is not to be the policy of the coming scientific utilitarian to publish, pray what is the function of the new weekly? And, when the inventor gets "restive at the slow progress of discovery," and proposes to take hold of it himself we may commend his enterprise, but there are some things of which it is desirable that he should be reminded. First of all, and as a matter of fact, scientific truth has been a slow growth of ages. "The telegraph, the telephone, and the electric light" illustrate a good deal more than is here stated. Centuries of labor, and the blood of generations of indefatigable scientific workers, had been expended in experimental researches upon electricity, before the facts were disclosed and the principles