Popular Science Monthly/Volume 59/August 1901/The Progress of Science

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It is generally though not universally known that Washington made provision in his will toward the establishment of a national university. For reasons somewhat difficult to understand his bequest has never been used, and only after the lapse of a hundred years has an institution been established in his memory which will fully accomplish under the conditions now existing the great objects he had in view. These have, it is true, in large measure been met by the growth of private and state universities, and by the development of scientific work under the government, but at last these different lines will converge in the Washington Memorial Institution. This has resulted from the union of more or less independent efforts. An enthusiastic group of men and women has long advocated the establishment of a national university, and for this purpose a George Washington Memorial Association was incorporated in 1898. In the same year the Washington Academy of Sciences was organized, giving a definite center for scientific interests in the city and to a certain extent throughout the country. In the same year a committee of the National Educational Association was appointed, which recommended the utilization for research of the scientific and other departments of the government. In the same year a committee of the Association of Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations recommended the organization of opportunities for study and research for students of the land grant and other colleges. The year 1898 is consequently an important one in the history of the development of education and research in the United States, and the present year marks the union and fruition of these efforts.

The Washington Memorial Institution was incorporated on May 20, its objects being defined as follows:

To create a memorial to George Washington, to promote science and literature, to provide opportunities and facilities for higher learning, and to facilitate the utilization of the scientific and other resources of the government for purposes of research and higher education.

A board of fifteen trustees has been created, including representatives of the leading universities of the country and of the scientific work under the government. The officers include Dr. D. C. Gilman, lately president of the Johns Hopkins University, as director; Dr. Charles D. Walcott, president of the Washington Academy of Sciences and director of the U. S. Geological Survey, as president of the board of trustees; and Professor Nicholas Murray Butler, of Columbia University, as secretary of the board. Under these auspices there will surely develop at Washington a great institution, which will in fact be a national university. It will not, however, be a rival to existing universities, but will coordinate their work; it will utilize the opportunities for study and research in the government departments, without interfering with their legitimate functions; it will be a center of research and intellectual activity, worthily representing our great universities and the scientific work of the national government.


Glasgow University celebrated its ninth jubilee exactly at the same time that the University of Chicago celebrated its first decennial. On both occasions there were elaborate academic ceremonies, and the sciences were well represented. Indeed at Glasgow science appears to have been predominant, the four principal addresses being in celebration of four men of science, prominently connected with the university in the past. Lord Kelvin delivered an oration on James Watt, Professor Smart on Adam. Smith, Professor Young on William Hunter, and Sir Joseph Hooker, in connection with the opening of the new botanical department, on his father. The LL.D. was given to somewhat over one hundred delegates, including, among Americans, J. Mark Baldwin, professor of psychology, Princeton University; William G. Farlow, professor of cryptogamic botany, Harvard University; Adolph Meyer, lecturer on psychiatry, Clark University; and R. Mark Wenley, professor of philosophy. University of Michigan. The celebration at Chicago was even more elaborate,

The Leon Mandel Assembly-Hall, the Student's Club House, the Tower and the Commons of the University of Chicago.

a number of addresses being made on different subjects. The only two foreign delegates appear to have been Professor J. H. van't Hoff, the eminent physical chemist of Berlin, and Professor Marcus Dods, the theologian of Edinburgh. Eleven honorary degrees were given, including in the sciences, in addition to Professor van't Hoff, Professor E. C. Pickering, director of the Harvard College Observatory; Dr. Charles D. Walcott, director of the U. S. Geological Survey, and Professor E. B. Wilson, professor of zoology in Columbia University. The address of most interest from a scientific point of view was Dr. Walcott's on 'The Relation of the National Government to Higher Education and Research.' Mr. and Mrs. Rockefeller were present at the exercises, and President Harper took the occasion to say that the world knows what ten or twelve million dollars mil do for a university, but that the time is coming for the world to learn what fifty million dollars can accomplish. As part of the ceremonies the corner stones of a number of new buildings were laid, the most important group of which is shown in the accompanying illustration.


Institutions for Scientific education and research are developing in the United States with a rapidity that is truly bewildering. Industrial conditions, created by the advance of science, have produced wealth that is both widely distributed and collected in great fortunes. Several of those who have freely received have also freely given. To them the world is forever indebted, for they have not only by their contributions to education and science made new advances inevitable, but, by repaying their debt to society, they have contributed greatly to its stability. During the past month Mr. Jacob S. Rogers, of Paterson, N. J., a manufacturer of locomotives, has bequeathed nearly his entire fortune, $8,000,000 it is said, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan has given $1,000,000 to Harvard University for its Medical School. Mr. Carnegie's gifts of $10,000,000 to the Scottish universities and of an equal sum for American libraries have recently been made, and now it appears that he is planning with equal munificence for technical schools at Pittsburg.

In the May issue of this magazine. Dr. W. J. Holland, director of the Carnegie Museum, described Mr. Carnegie's great foundation. The trustees of the Institute and Library were requested by Mr. Carnegie to draw up plans for technical schools, and they appointed an expert committee, which has just made a report. This committee consists of Professor Robert H. Thurston, director of Sibley Engineering College, Cornell University; Professor J. B. Johnson, dean of the College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin; Professor Thomas Gray, of the Rose Polytechnic Institute, and Professor V. C. Alderson, of the Armour Institute. Their report outlines a technical institute covering the whole field with unparalleled thoroughness, 1 including a college, a high-school and special classes. The college would offer courses in the sciences, in modern languages and in all departments of engineering, and provide the fullest facilities for investigation and research, being in fact a great national school of technology. The high-school would be local in character, but would be a model for the similar schools that will surely be established in other cities. Special classes will provide instruction for those who are unable to give their entire time to study. These are only the recommendations of the committee, but there is every reason to believe that Mr. Carnegie has in view the establishment at Pittsburg of the greatest technical schools in the world.


Mr. Poulsen, of Copenhagen, has given the name telegraphone to an instrument in which he has most ingeniously combined the telephone and the phonograph. Its general construction will be understood from the illustrations, originally published in the London 'Electrician.' The details of the two instruments differ, a short wire being used in the one and a long steel ribbon in the other, but the general principle is the same. The steel wire or ribbon passes before the poles of an electro-magnet in a telephone circuit, and is thus magnetized in a manner varying with the current in the telephone circuit produced by the voice of the speaker. When the steel wire is then passed over the poles of an electro-magnet, the same undulations will be set up in the current passing through its coils, and the sounds will be reproduced in the receiver. The reproduction is as definite as in a good telephone and much superior in quality to that of any form of phonograph. The record can be used as often as desired, and is said to last indefinitely, but it can be wiped out by passing the wire over an electro-magnet. The wire can be passed over any number of receiving magnets, and messages can thus be transmitted practically simultaneously to any number of stations. It is said also that the magnets may, in this way, be used as a telephonic relay, which would be a result of the utmost practical importance.

The Telegraphone.


The little planet Eros bids fair to hold the attention of astronomers for several years to come. Before the observations necessary for the determination of the sun's distance had been completed, came the announcement, by Dr. Oppolzer, of the planet's variability, A variable planet, with a range of variation, such as Eros has shown, is in itself something new and striking, but this is only the beginning of the problem. Several hundred stars are known to vary their light periodically, and some advance has been made in the theory of their variability. Variable stars, however, do not become invariable, neither do invariable stars, after a time, become variable. From a variable planet, having an extremely short period and large range of variation, Eros recently became invariable. In Europe, soon after the discovery of its variability, its range was said to be two magnitudes, that is, it shone with about six times more light at maximum than at minimum. Precise photometric measurements of the light of Eros, made by Professor Wendell, on March 12 of the present year gave a range of variation of 1.1 magnitudes and on April 12, of 0.4 of a magnitude. On May 6 and 7 no variation was perceptible, and it was less, probably, than a tenth of a magnitude. Owing to poor weather and the planet's approach to the sun, later observations have been difficult. But a slight variation was apparent in June. These unique phenomena probably are the result of the changing direction of the axis of rotation referred to the line of sight. Although the direction of this axis in space is fixed, it will constantly change with reference to an observer on the earth. When the axis, if ever, points directly towards the earth, there can be no variation of light, and the maximum range mil be found when the axis is perpendicular to the line of sight. Apparently this axis has recently been pointing towards the earth. We may confidently expect that within a short time Eros will again show well marked changes, although the planet's position may not permit exact observations. On March 5, M. Ch. André communicated to the 'Astron. Nach.' a discussion, in which he assumed that the variation is due to the fact that Eros is a double asteroid. M. Andre even gave approximate elements for a system which appeared to him to satisfy the conditions. Professor Pickering has recently pointed out. that the variations in light can hardly be accounted for by two similar bodies alternately eclipsing each other, and has suggested that the known facts can be explained by the rotation either upon an elongated, cigar-shaped body, or of a body, one side of which is much darker than the other. The solution of the interesting problems, which Eros presents, may not be possible until the next opposition, which does not occur for about two years. Eros will be in conjunction with the sun in the spring of 1902, and in opposition in the summer of 1903. The distance of the planet at that time will be great, since Eros will not be at perihelion, but this will not prevent precise determinations of the changes in light, with a telescope of sufficient I power. At the next opposition, however, the path of Eros will be in the southern sky. The most favorable time for observation will be from March to August, 1903. During these months its declination will be between 30° and 45° south of the equator, which will make it difficult or impossible of observation at northern observatories.


In the death of Professor Joseph Le Conte, America has lost the man of science who was most honored and beloved. An age of extreme specialization and keen competition can still appreciate the general culture and broad survey of nature which make a great teacher and a great man. Other contemporary men of science have more exact knowledge of a limited field and have made more definite contributions i to science, but there is perhaps no one who has done such good work in such diverse directions or whose influence, has been so wide and beneficent. Le Conte was descended from a Huguenot family, driven to America after the revocation of the edict of Nantes. His father, uncle and brother were all emiment in science. Born in the South in 1828, he began to practise medicine, but his love of natural science led him to go to Harvard to work under Agassiz. He held chairs in southern universities, but these being disabled by the civil war, he accepted a call to the University of California before its opening, and for thirty-two years has been professor of geology and natural history and the leading scientific man on the Pacific coast. His teaching and his publications have covered a wide field. His book on 'Sight' is the best English treatise on this subject; he published standard works on geology and recently a work on zoology. His special papers on these subjects and on education and philosophy are numerous and valuable. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and president of the Geological Society of America. He died in the Yosemite Valley on July 6; it seems fitting that death should have come suddenly in the midst of the mountains that he studied and loved. A biographical sketch of Joseph Le Conte, with a portrait, was published in The Popular Science Monthly for January, 1878.


Dr. John Fiske, eminent for his contributions to the theory of evolution and to American history and widely known for his popular writings and lectures, died on July 4. We regret also to record the death of Professor Peter Guthrie Tait, who, for forty years, held the chair of natural philosophy at Edinburgh and made important contributions to physical science.

A committee, Consisting of Professors Ira Remsen, J. S. Ames and W. H. Welch, has been appointed at the Johns Hopkins University to arrange a memorial to the late Professor Henry A. Rowland.

M. Laveran, who discovered the malaria parasite, has been elected a member of the Paris Academy of Sciences in the section of medicine, and M. Zeiller a member in the section of botany.—The following fifteen candidates have been elected members of the Royal Society: Professor Alfred William Alcock, Mr. Frank Watson Dyson, Mr. Arthur John Evans, Professor John Walter Gregory, Captain Henry Bradwardine Jackson, Mr. Hector Munro Macdonald, Mr. James Mansergh, Professor Charles James Martin, Major Roland Ross, Professor William Schlich, Professor Arthur Smithells, Mr. Michael Rodgers, Mr. Oldfield Thomas, Mr. William Watson, Mr. William Cecil Dampier Whetham, and Mr. Arthur Smith Woodward.

Professor James Dewar, the eminent chemist, has been elected president of the British Association to follow Professor A. W. Rücker, and will preside at the Belfast meeting in 1902. Professor A. S. Packard, who has held since 1878 the chair of zoology and geology at Brown University, has been elected a foreign member of the Linnean Society of London.

Professor William James, of Harvard University, gave his course of Gilford Lectures on the psychology of religion at Edinburgh during May.—Professor J. H. van't Hoff, of the University of. Berlin, gave in June limited number of lectures on physical chemistry at the University of Chicago.—Dr. William Z. Ripley, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been invited to deliver the second Huxley Memorial Lecture before the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain. The first lecture was given last year by Lord Avebury, and was published in this Journal.


President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.