Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/625

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

MEETINGS OF SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES

Apart from the Christmas holidays, the month of April is the favorite season for scientific meetings. It would be the best time in the year, if it were only possible for educational institutions to agree on a week's holiday. At present some of them have a vacation at a regular time, some follow Easter and some have none. There is now active discussion on the reform of the calendar. One month with twenty-eight days is certainly undesirable, and it would be convenient if each month began on the same day of the week. A radical reform is no more unlikely than any other, and the suggestion made by Professor T. C. Chamberlin (Science, November 25, 1910) is alluring. It is to have twelve months of 28 days with an extra week at the close of each quarter, Christmas week having an added day with another extra day on leap year. Southern nations may be over-fond of holidays, but life is almost too monotonous in the sober north. It might be well if each quarter were followed by a week in which the routine business of life were interrupted—Christmas week for family reunions, Easter week for religious and scientific gatherings, Julien week for national and international celebrations, the autumn week for harvest and labor festivals. While we wait, probably in vain, for such a reform, educational institutions might, and to a certain extent have adopted the plan of four quarters with a week's intermission. Concentrated effort might give us a week in the spring for scientific meetings.

The National Academy of Sciences holds its annual stated meeting in Washington, beginning on the third Tuesday in April, and almost justifies its existence by the time of meeting, as members from further north are likely then to come into the fullness of the spring. The academy is in the main of interest to its limited membership. It is possible that the honor of election stimulates to scientific research, though it can scarcely be so effective in this direction as would be the case if the work of the academy were better known and if there were some more tangible advantage in membership, as is the case in some of the continental academies, where the members receive salaries from the government. If research is to be accomplished it must be paid for in some way, and there is much to be said for the endowment of individuals through an institution such as the National Academy of Sciences.

At present the official function of the academy as the scientific adviser of the government is hardly exercised. Indeed it is not clear how it could be to advantage when the government has in its own employment hundreds of scientific men. Nor can it be said that the programs of scientific papers are of great interest. Important research work is presented each year, but probably not more important than before the special scientific societies, and it has now become very difficult for scientific work in all directions to be presented before a single group of individuals.

Following the meeting of the National Academy in Washington, the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia has in recent years arranged a meeting which has assumed national importance. The program of scientific papers is larger than at Washington, the society is fortunate in