Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/486

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468

POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

common note of certainty, being herewith differentiated from other and older views on the same subjects, as knowledge differs from opinion. They are thus led to see more clearly than they could otherwise see the unity of the universe, that knowledge is one, and that each science is but a facet cut on the crystal sphere of natural truth, touching other facets at many points, and by no means independent, but supported by the integrity of the sphere.

Such a gathering tends to an increase of mutual respect and confidence on the part of all engaged in scientific work. It tends to discourage the narrow conceit of the specialist, who, if left entirely to his own tastes, comes to think that his own facet is the only one that deserves to be regarded, and practically to ignore its relation to the sphere of which it constitutes an essential though a minor part.

Such an association tends toward making specialists intelligible to each other. In other words, it puts a premium on the art of popularizing science, for when the specialist makes himself intelligible to his brethren in their widely separated fields he makes himself intelligible to all educated men, whether especially trained in science or not.

The specialist is under a strong temptation to limit himself to a language of his own, which is an unknown tongue even to the rest of the scientific world. Technical terms, carried out to minute subdivisions, are indispensable in every branch of modern science, but the student of any science is in an evil state who can not present his results to the world without appealing to the technical jargon of the branch which he cultivates.

There even seems a reluctance on the part of some to use plain language in stating scientific conclusions, as if the cheapening of science were feared by its being made intelligible. Such a fear is certainly unworthy. The masters have never felt it. In lucidity and directness of speech and in general intelligibility Tyndall, Huxley, and Darwin were not surpassed by any men of their generation. To whom are we as much indebted for the great advance of science in their day as to these very men?

If the scientist neglects this popularizing of science, the sciolist is sure to take it up, and his work in this field always makes the judicious grieve. Is there not possible danger that this phase of scientific work and the function of the association corresponding thereto are losing consideration to some extent?

But instead of its being true that the scientific work of the country has outgrown the need of the association, is it not rather true that we are in far more urgent need of its unifying agency than even the founders were fifty years ago? We have all the