Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/623

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619
THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

for dissection trace their history to Vesalius or even to the beginnings of the medieval university at Salernum. But Liebig's laboratory at Giessen stands for a new epoch in scientific investigation and instruction. It had its own development and was the model for chemical laboratories in other German universities and in other countries. It was some twenty-five years before similar laboratories in physics were established, to be followed still later by laboratories of zoology, physiology, botany, geology and psychology.

It is indeed a long way from "Speculative Physics "—the title which Schelling gave to his work—to the science of the modern laboratory. The transformation in the German university was truly marvelous and is due in greater degree to Liebig than to any other. It was of course a necessary evolution, but a reading of the biography of Liebig makes clear what difficulties had to be overcome and how largely this was accomplished by the energy and personality of the great chemist.

For twenty-seven years Liebig worked in the Giessen laboratory attracting students and fellow workers from all parts of Germany and from foreign countries. He there laid the foundations of organic chemistry and its applications to physiology, to agriculture and to the arts. In 1852 Liebig accepted a call to Munich. He died in 1873.

 

SCIENTIFIC AND EDUCATIONAL MEETINGS

The principal scientific congress of the year consists of the scientific societies meeting in affiliation with the American Association for the Advancement of Science in New Year's week, with an attendance in the neighborhood of 2,000 scientific men. The meeting next in importance should be that of the National Academy of Sciences at Washington in the third week of April. The academy has high functions as the adviser of the government

in scientific matters and high traditions in maintaining the prestige of science. If, however, the academy transacts business of importance behind closed doors this does not appear in the annual reports, and the scientific programs are small and somewhat uneven in character. At the last meeting there were nineteen papers on the program not all of which were presented. Several of these were important and interesting, and several were important but not interesting to others than experts in the special subject. In general the programs are not of sufficient value to attract to Washington men of science other than members of the academy.

The American Philosophical Society, founded in Philadelphia by Franklin on the model of the Royal Society, after becoming local in character has again undertaken to hold general meetings. They follow immediately those of the National Academy and appear to have become of greater general interest. Thus at the recent meeting there were about fifty papers on the program and some of the events, such as the Darwin memorial session addressed by Ambassador Bryce, were of real significance. The society is fortunate in having its historic building on Independence Square and means to provide luncheons, dinners and receptions. It seems probable, however, that academies having a limited membership selected for eminence and programs covering all the sciences belong to the eighteenth rather than to the twentieth century.

The professional societies in the applied sciences and in education always have successful meetings. The American Medical Convention, meeting in Atlantic City early in June, and the National Educational Association, meeting in Denver early in July, are certain j to bring together thousands of members. The National Educational Association not only has programs attractive to teachers, but the excursion elements are emphasized so that the