Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/486

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of the congress had formerly more time to cultivate the society of men of science than at present, and perhaps men of science could then also better spare the time. The scientific men under the government are now more highly regarded than ever before. Some years ago they were looked upon as seekers after public patronage and viewed with a certain suspicion. Now they are treated as members of the government, not less essential than officers of the army. In a recent debate in the senate on the organization of a new department of commerce, no senator was able to say to what political party the present head of the bureau of labor belongs, but all agreed that his advice was of special importance in framing the bill. When the government employs skilled experts in all departments, it no longer requires the advice of an academy of sciences. We should like to see the National Academy entrusted with certain definite functions and we should like to see scientific men treated with even greater respect than at present, but on the whole the necessary conditions of a democracy and of an age of specialization do not seem to be unfavorable to scientific work.


The director of the Lick Observatory has recently announced that the remarkable coronal disturbance, which was one of the notable features of the Sumatra eclipse, has been found, by Professor Perrine, to be above the prominent and only sunspot visible during eleven days. This interesting discovery emphasizes the fact that results of much value can sometimes be obtained at eclipses, even when the sun is covered by thin clouds. It will be remembered that a total eclipse of the sun occurred on May 17, 1901. The duration of the eclipse was so long, and the possibilities of valuable work so great, that many parties from different countries visited Sumatra, Mauritius, and other islands in the path of totality. Early reports announced that failure was general on account of clouds. Later reports, however, by the directors of the different parties, show that, while many observers accomplished little or nothing, others obtained satisfactory results. Taken altogether the observations are of high value, and will justify the expense incurred. Congress made a generous, if somewhat tardy, appropriation for the observance of this eclipse, and a party was sent out, in charge of Professor A. N. Skinner, embracing six members of the Naval Observatory, and five others. Professor Skinner very wisely decided to divide his party into several divisions. The main party, including himself and Professor Barnard, were stationed at Solok, which seemed to offer the best chance for a clear sky. At the same place were Messrs. Abbott and Draper, of the Smithsonian Institution, and some English astronomers. Little of value was obtained at Solok, owing to clouds. One of the smaller parties, however, at Sawah-Loento, a short distance to the east, had better success. Results of high value were obtained by Dr. Mitchell, of Columbia University, and by Professors Burton and Smith, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Perhaps the only place where a perfectly clear sky was found was at Fort de Kock, and fine photographs were there made by Dr. W. J. Humphreys, of the University of Virginia, and by Mr. G. H. Peters, of the Naval Observatory. The party sent out by the Lick Observatory, in charge of Professor Perrine, was stationed at Padang. Throughout the totality thin clouds covered the sun. These clouds undoubtedly interfered with some of the photographic results, especially those which were concerned with the search for an intra-mercurial planet. But the polariscopic and spectroscopic results, as well as the photographs of the inner and middle corona appeared to be only slightly affected by the clouds. The