Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 66.djvu/296

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PSM V66 D296 Flower astronomical laboratory u of pennsylvania.png

The Flower Astronomical Observatory.

even though they may like occasionally to be isolated, and some machinery is necessary to make local arrangements, to secure reduced railway fares and the like.

Then while a small group of experts is the ideal condition for the presentation and discussion of special research, there are wider aspects of science and interrelations between the sciences for the adequate consideration of which workers in different departments must come together. There are also conditions of scientific progress, such as educational methods, scientific institutions, publication, government activities, etc., that need criticism and control. Neither trades unions nor corporations meet with universal approval at the present time, but it is obvious that some union among men of science is desirable for the support of their common interests, which in this case are fortunately identical with the interests of society. Lastly a federation of societies and a large gathering of scientific men is an important factor in keeping scientific work in touch with the outside world and in impressing on it the unity and weight of scientific research.

The complicated conditions appear to have been met by the establishment of 'convocation week' at the end of the Christmas holidays. Under the general auspices of the American Association arrangements are made at some large center for the meeting of the association and of the special societies that care to join with it. The special societies have complete control of their place and time of meeting, of their programs and membership; but without interfering with their autonomy the advantages of a great gathering of scientific men are assured. Thus at Philadelphia, beginning the day after Christmas, there will meet the American Association and its ten sections; the American Society of Naturalists, and some twenty special societies, including those devoted to astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology, botany, zoology, paleontology, bacteriology, physiology, anatomy, anthropology, psychology and philosophy The societies are fortunate in their