Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/338

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We again direct attention to the bills before Congress for the establishment of the National Standardizing Bureau, the functions of which shall consist in the custody of the standards used in scientific investigations, engineering and commerce; the construction, when necessary, of such standards, their multiples and submultiples; the testing and calibration of such standards and standard measuring apparatus; the solution of problems arising in connection with standards and the determination of physical constants and the properties of materials, when such data are of great importance and are not to be obtained of sufficient accuracy elsewhere. The establishment of a National Physical Laboratory has been under discussion in this country for almost twenty years, and although the urgent need of such an institution has been generally recognized, the spasmodic efforts in that direction have heretofore either lacked sufficient support from those most vitally concerned or have not taken into account existing conditions. The bill submitted last spring by the Secretary of the Treasury was evidently framed after most careful consideration of the question from its legislative as well as from its scientific and technical aspects. It is believed that its scope is as broad as could be reasonably expected at present, even by the scientific interests, and while the bureau is to be placed under a director having, as is proper, full control of its administration, there is also provided a board of visitors, consisting of five members prominent in the various interests involved, and not in the employ of the Government, the board serving thus in a supervisory capacity, and at the same time eliminating by its high standing, and by its close relationship to the technical and scientific bodies of the country, the effect of 'political influence' in the administration of the bureau.


The prospects for favorable action by Congress seem most promising owing t*> the hearty cooperation of all interested, the measure having received the indorsement of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the Congress of American Physicians and Surgeons, the National Electric Light Association and other prominent organizations. It has also been indorsed by the scientific and technical bureaus of the Government, by institutions of higher learning through members of their scientific and engineering faculties, and by manufacturers of scientific apparatus, and it has appealed especially to the electrical fraternity. Although introduced towards the close of the last session, the bill was favorably reported to the House by the unanimous vote of the Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures. The Senate bill is now before the Committee on Commerce, which, it is hoped, will repeat the action of the House Committee. The immediate passage of the measure cannot be too strongly urged, even with due regard to the great volume of other important business awaiting action during the present short session, especially as the bill could be disposed of in a very short time, containing, as it does, nothing: which could possibly provoke partisan discussion.


The importance of the National Physical Laboratory is now universally recognized. Germany attributes its won-