Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/484

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466

POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

PROPER OBJECTS OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE.

By EDWARD ORTON,

PROFESSOR OF GEOLOGY IN OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY;
PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE.

THE objects of the American Association for the Advancement of Science are clearly expressed in the opening paragraph of its constitution, which was adopted at its first meeting, held September 20, 1848, in Philadelphia. From that day to this the paragraph referred to has not been modified except by the replacement of three words, viz., "the United States" by a single and more comprehensive word—"America."

As here defined, the objects of the association are "to promote intercourse between those who are cultivating science in different parts of America, to give a stronger and more general impulse and a more systematic direction to scientific research in our country, and to procure for the labors of scientific men increased facilities and a wider usefulness."

Three distinct elements are included in this general statement, viz.: (1) The cultivation of personal intercourse or acquaintance among the workers in science in this country; (2) the encouragement, extension, and proper direction of scientific research; (3) the gaining of popular recognition and good will for the results of scientific work. These objects may be conveniently summarized as (1) social, (2) scientific, (3) practical.

There is nothing in the original paragraph to indicate whether the elements of this threefold division were counted of equal value, or whether they were arranged in either an ascending or descending scale of importance, but from the fact that in the development and expansion of the association during the last fifty years nothing has been added to and nothing subtracted from this general statement, while in many other divisions of the constitution large and sometimes radical changes have been adopted, it seems safe to conclude that the present members of the association see its work and office in very much the same light as its founders did.

But, while sailing under the old colors and apparently by the old charts, it is quite possible that the association is, insensibly to itself, undergoing modification more or less important. Such an experience is unavoidable in all human institutions, at least in those that retain their vitality in state, society, or church.

The fifty years that cover the life of the association are unquestionably the most important, so far as the growth of science is con-