Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 82.djvu/522

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

Denmark, 938; Norway, 938; Holland, 606; Germany, 472; Sweden, 395 Belgium, 320; United States, 191 Great. Britain and Ireland, 172 France, 163; Italy, 120; Austria-Hungary, 73; Russia, 22. The number for Massachusetts is 654, placing that state above Holland. As De Candolle has shown, the supremacy of Switzerland has been maintained for 200 years. He gives political and social causes which he holds would account for it. These also apply in large measure to Denmark, Norway and Holland.

 

THE SCIENTIFIC CAREER IN THE UNITED STATES

The number of scientific men of distinction would tend to be in proportion to the total number of scientific men a generation ago rather than at present, and the United States can not expect to have nearly one tenth of the eminent scientific men of the world. Professor Pickering found (The Popular Science Monthly, October, 1908, and January, 1909) that of the 87 scientific men who were members of at least two foreign academies, six were Americans, as compared with 17 from Prussia, 13 from England and 12 from France. In so far as our scientific production is so measured, the reference is to a generation ago when our universities wove only beginning to develop and research work was only beginning to be appreciated. It is a striking fact that of the six distinguished Americans, three are astronomers; and astronomy is the only science in which thirty years ago the facilities for research work in this country were equal to those of the leading European nations. Of the remaining three, two have not been engaged in teaching, and the third has been practically freed from teaching for his research work.

It is not possible for men to earn their livings by scientific research. Like other work for the benefit of society as a whole, and unlike business or professional service which can be sold to individuals, it must be rewarded by society. In the past reputation, social recognition, titles, prizes degrees, membership in academies and the like have been used as rewards, but these form a fiat currency which is now debased and scarcely passes in this country. It presupposes that the scientific man has independent means of support, and the group from which he can come is comparatively small. The method has succeeded in Great Britain, but in our democracy we can not afford to keep a leisure class for certain desirable bye-products. It is in every way better and cheaper to pay for our science. Germany owes its leadership in the nineteenth century to the provision of highly regarded university chairs given as a reward and as opportunity for research.

Such opportunity for scientific research as exists in the United States is also chiefly due to the universities. Of our thousand leading scientific men, three fourths earn their livings by teaching, nearly all in a few universities. These institutions deserve credit for what has been accomplished and responsibility for the fact that we have failed to equal Germany, England and France in the production of scientific men of high quality. There are many positions and many scientific men, many students and many executive officers. But our colleges and professional schools are not of university grade, our graduate students are not the men of exceptional ability selected from the whole people, but, as a group, men preparing to follow a safe and humble career; safe, so long as no offence is given; humble, unless it leads to an administrative position. The professor is subjected to official routine and executive machinery; his salary, at best but meager, his work and even his position are dependent on the will of a superior official. We may hope that this is only a temporary phase in university development, corresponding to similar conditions in politics,