Professor Robert Simpson Woodward, who holds the chair of mechanics and mathematical physics at Columbia University and is dean of the faculty of pure science, was elected president of the Carnegie Institution at the meeting of the trustees held at Washington on December 13. No selection could have been made more certain to meet the general approval of scientific men. They know that Professor Woodward possesses in an unusual degree the scientific eminence, executive ability, sound judgment and sympathetic personality which the position requires. His own researches have given him acquaintance with a wide range of the sciences, he having made contributions to mathematics, physics, geology and astronomy, while he has an intelligent interest in the biological sciences. He has been president and is now treasurer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences; he has been president of the American Mathematical Society and of the New York Academy of Sciences; he is one of the editors of Science; he has always done far more than his share to promote all efforts for the advancement of science.
The presidency of the Carnegie Institution is the most important scientific position in the world. There are attached to this office unusual opportunities and at the same time serious responsibilities. As our readers know, Mr. Andrew Carnegie gave three years ago preferred bonds of the United States Steel Corporation of the par value of $10,000,000 to establish at Washington an institution whose objects are defined in the articles of incorporation, as follows:
(b) To conduct, endow and assist investigation in any department of science, literature or art, and to this end to cooperate with governments, universities, colleges, technical schools, learned societies and individuals;
(c) To appoint committees of experts to direct special lines of research;
(d) To publish and distribute documents;
(e) To conduct lectures;
(f) To hold meetings;
(g) To acquire and maintain a library;
(h) And, in general, to do and perform all things necessary to promote the objects of said institution.
It is not remarkable and it is perhaps fortunate that three years have elapsed without committing the institution to any definite policy. Smithson's bequest ' to found at Washington an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men ' was in its objects closely parallel to Mr. Carnegie's foundation. The legacy of about $550,000 was received in 1838. All sorts of projects were embodied in bills, but the congress did not come to any agreement as to its uses until 1846. The delay in this case was certainly fortunate. Soon after the establishment of the Carnegie Institution a number of the leading American men of science took part in a discussion published in Science on its functions, which were summarized in the New York Independent in the following conflicting propositions:
2. Waste no money on buildings, but utilize existing laboratories wherever they may be.
3. Keep young men from deserting scientific pursuits by granting numerous fellowships to poor but worthy persons.