Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/273

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THE PRUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCE.

THE ROYAL PRUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCE AND THE FINE ARTS. BERLIN.
By EDWARD F. WILLIAMS,

CHICAGO, III.

VI. The History of the Academy under the Emperor William I., the Emperor Frederick III. and his son William II., the present Emperor, or from 1859 to 1900.

AS early as 1860 A. Kirchhoff, in an address delivered on one of the festival days of the academy, emphasized the change which had been introduced into the methods of scientific study. Research, he said, had limited itself to narrow fields with a view to the mastery of the least important detail in them. This limitation he regarded as necessary. Although the academy had done its part in the discovery and confirmation of the law of the conservation of energy, and had shown the immense value of the law of evolution as a scientific hypothesis, the time had come when investigation must be content to confine itself to a limited field, if its results are to be trustworthy, and permit men of comprehensive minds and more general information to weave them into consistent philosophical systems. The era of the universal had passed, that of the particular had begun.

The Prince of Prussia, brother of the king, became regent in 1859 and king in 1860. He was succeeded by his son, Frederick III., who, after a reign of three months, was followed by his son William II., who is still on the throne. Each of these sovereigns has favored the academy so far as possible.

From 1859 to 1900, 82 members were received into the academy. Of the 46 actively engaged in its work in 1859, Rammelsberg and Mommsen alone were living in 1900. Of the 82 new members, 32 had died and 4 had moved from Berlin. The physical class had lost but 11 members, the historical 25. Of some of these members a few words may be permitted. Helmholtz, the discoverer of the law of the conservation of energy, has been thought in Germany worthy of a place by the side of Sir Isaac Newton. His works on optics, acoustics and the physiology of the nerves are known everywhere and are received as authority. Von Siemens is famous for his discoveries in electricity and the practical use he made of them. Virchow, and van't Hoff the chemist, still living, have brought the academy lasting fame. During