Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/343

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

divided into two sections, one for the exact sciences and one for natural history. In 1882 nine sections were organized, but it was not until 1892 that botany was separated from zoölogy. At present the sections no longer suffice, and there must be either a further subdivision and a more efficient organization of the sections, or the American Association must become an administrative body, that will arrange for the simultaneous meetings of independent societies and the union of these societies in support of their common interests.

 

The obvious advantages of meeting together have now led nearly all the national scientific societies to select either the time of the American Association or Christmas week for joint meetings. It is unfortunate that they should be divided into two groups, and it must be admitted that neither midsummer nor the Christmas holidays are altogether suitable for the meetings. The American Association has this year made the experiment of selecting the end of June, immediately after the close of the college sessions, instead of a week in August. This has some advantages, but even at the beginning of the summer many men of science are either abroad or are engaged in scientific expeditions. The heat is apt to be excessive, interfering not only with the meetings, but also requiring some self-sacrifice on the part of scientific men when they leave their comfortable summer homes to travel through heat and dust to a hot and dusty city. Christmas week, divided by Sunday, is too short for a series of scientific meetings, especially for those who must travel from a distance. This led to the organization last winter of the Cordillerean Geological Society, the Western Society of Naturalists and the Western Philosophical Association. Local associations are, of course, valuable, but they should not interfere with one central meeting in the course of the year. The plan has been suggested of taking one week, either immediately after the New Year or in the early spring, for a general scientific gathering, which would include not only the exact and natural sciences, but also philology, history, etc. The plan would be to secure an adjournment of exercises or leave of absence in the case of universities, colleges, museums, Government departments, etc., with the understanding that it would be the duty of all those who were released from their regular work to attend the meetings.

 

The American Association last met in New York City in 1887, though there was a meeting in Brooklyn in 1894. The past thirteen and even the past six years have witnessed an extraordinary development in the educational and scientific institutions of the city. Columbia College and New York University have developed into great universities, each having found a new site and erected upon it buildings which might have been expected to come only as the growth of a century. The American Museum of Natural History has become one of the great museums of the world, millions of dollars having been spent on buildings. A botanical garden and a zoölogical park have been established, which promise to rival those of any of the European capitals. A well-equipped aquarium has been opened under the auspices of the city; the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been entirely rebuilt to accommodate its increasing collections; a magnificent building is in course of erection for the Public Library to contain its great assemblage of books, which with its endowment is largely the result of recent years. While Boston and Philadelphia have made great advances within the last few years, and Washington has become the chief scientific center of the United States, it is especially noteworthy that New York City has enjoyed an educational and scientific development commensurate with its material resources.

 

Jonas G. Clark, who ten years ago established at Worcester a university