Popular Science Monthly/Volume 63/August 1903/The Progress of Science
THE BOSTON MEETING OF THE NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL ASSOCIATION.
It is usual for each meeting of the National Educational Association to show an attendance and to claim a success surpassing its predecessors, but the recent Boston meeting established a record that has not hitherto been approached and that will not soon be challenged. It is said that there was a registration of thirty thousand, an assemblage of teachers larger than the world has hitherto seen. Boston is no longer without rival as an intellectual center, but its preeminence in the history of education is maintained, and the intellectual and educational interests of the city are not submerged and hidden to such an extent as is the case in New York, Washington, Philadelphia and Chicago. It is thus the city which has the most to attract a great convention of teachers.
The meetings of the National Educational Association are, in a large measure, an excursion or picnic, the interest of the city and the journey counting for more than the program. There are few or no sessions in the afternoon, not more than half the members attend the sectional meetings in the morning, and not more than one tenth the general evening sessions after the first day. This is quite as it should be, for the teachers from all over the country gain much from travel, sightseeing and social exchange, whereas the programs do a good deal of threshing over of old straw. It is, however, a great stimulus for these teachers to see and hear their leaders; and it was worth going to Boston to listen to the president of the association. President Eliot, of Harvard University, who is without peer as a presiding officer and speaker.
In his presidential address entitled 'The New Definition of the Cultivated Man,' Dr. Eliot—who, it may be called to mind, was a professor of chemistry before he became the greatest college president and educational leader of the country—laid stress on the fact that the scientific method has been the means of the wonderful widening of the intellect that has occurred during the past hundred years and is as necessary for culture as are the humanities; but no special language or literature, such as Latin or Greek, is now essential. English having become incomparably the most extensive and various and the noblest of literatures. After referring to a work of Zola's, Dr. Eliot said:
There were some three hundred speakers announced on the official program, a few of whom addressed the general evening sessions, while the others took part in the departmental sections for elementary, secondary and higher education, science, normal schools, school administration, physical education, defective children, Indian education, business, art, music libraries, child study and kindergarten. The discussion of the teaching of science should be of especial interest to the readers of this journal, but this is never noteworthy at the meetings of the association, there being very few men of science in attendance. It is unfortunate that this is the ease, as it is of the utmost importance for scientific leaders to familiarize themselves with the teaching of science in the public schools. We ought to know, for example, why the number of high school students studying physics decreased during the past ten years from twenty-four to eighteen per cent, while the number studying Latin increased from forty to fifty per cent.
THE PROBLEM OF THE COLLEGE.
The most interesting discussion at the meeting of the National Educational Association was one on the length of the baccalaureate course and the preparation for the professional schools, in which Presidents Eliot, Harper and Butler and Deans West and Hering were the official speakers. It is a most important question. There are now somewhat over 100,000 students in our colleges, universities and technical schools, and somewhat over 50,000 students in our professional schools of theology, law and medicine. In 1901, the last year for which the records have been published by the Bureau of Education, there were graduated from the colleges and technical schools 16,513 students, of whom 11,463 were men and 5,050 were women. Fifty different kinds of degrees were given to these graduates; but the classification of the commissioner of education is apparently faulty in attributing students of engineering to the colleges rather than to the professional schools. The number of regular academic bachelor degrees conferred was as follows: A.B., 7,943; B.S, 3,023; Ph.B., 1,112; B.L., 716. Of higher degrees the numbers were A.M., 1,280; M.S., 192; Ph.M., 22; M.L., 12; Ph.D., 343; Sc.D., 5. From the professional schools there were: graduates in theology, 1,585; in law, 3,306; in medicine, 5,472; in dentistry, 2,311; in pharmacy, 1,373; in veterinary medicine, 109. The number of students in theology has remained practically stationary since 1890; medical students have increased 73 per cent., and students of law to the remarkable extent of 202 per cent. In this period the men attending the colleges have increased 68 per cent, and the women 159 per cent., a relation which some will find gratifying and others will regard as ominous. The large figures do not represent the real increase in students, as the high school is now doing in large measure what was formerly done by the college. The increase in the number of high
school students, as shown in the accompanying chart, is truly remarkable. Worthy of note is also the fact that the increase is entirely a matter of the public secondary schools.
Of the 650,000 students in high, normal and preparatory schools, the 100,000 in colleges and the 50,000 in professional schools, the college students appear to cause the most difficulty to educators. The relation of the college to the high school, on the one hand, and to the professional school, on the other, is a problem that may ultimately be solved by the elimination of the old-fashioned college. The better high schools overlap the first two years of the weaker colleges, and the last two years of the college are often given in part to specialized or professional studies. Only one medical student in twelve holds a bachelor's degree. Our college is regarded as a distinctly American institution and is venerated as such. When there were but few high schools and when professional schools were private ventures, the college was the chief factor in education and culture. It is, however, now struggling for its existence, and has become so hybridized and diversified that there is no typical college.
The differences of opinion among the college administrators who took part in the discussion at Boston were extreme. President Eliot has consistently urged a three-year college course, beginning at the age of eighteen, consisting of elective studies and required for the professional schools. Dean West said that three years might be quite long enough for electives, but that we should have a four-year course composed of 'disciplinary' studies. President Harper also favors four years, but allows a sliding scale. President Butler prefers a two-year course for students preparing for the professions, beginning at the age of sixteen or seventeen. All the college officers who spoke at Boston agree, however, that the college course must be prerequisite to the professional schools, at least to the better ones. None of them seemed to regard it as possible that the distinction between 'cultural' and useful studies is artificial. Certainly none of them suggested that the student should be set free to do his work, and the baccalaureate degree be given him on his twenty first birthday.
THE BRITISH ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION.
Advices received in England and announced by the president of the Royal Geographical Society and others make it possible to form a reasonably correct estimate of the work accomplished by the British Antarctic Expedition and its present condition. The Morning, the relief ship under the command of Captain Colbeck, sighted the Discovery on January 23, but owing to the ice pack was not able to approach nearer to it than a distance of five miles. The Morning, having transferred the stores, left the ice on March 2, when there was already danger that she would become shut in. At this time it was hoped that the Discovery might be released from the ice, but this evidently proved impossible, as the ship would have reached New Zealand before this. We reproduce from the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society a sketch showing the position of the Discovery, the configuration of the land and the routes taken by the expeditions. It will be seen that the ice line was considerably further north in 1903 than in 1902, and unless it retreats in 1904, the Discovery must be abandoned. It is of course necessary under these circumstances to send a relief expedition again next year, and efforts are being made to collect money for this purpose. The government has been applied to for assistance, and the premier in the House of Commons recently, while implying that assistance would be granted, rather severely blamed the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Society for not foreseeing this need.
The most dramatic result of the expedition was reaching the point furthest south, at latitude 82° 17′, from which land could be seen as far south as 83° 30′, with mountain ranges and peaks as high as 14,000 feet. The trip was made by Captain Scott, accompanied by Lieutenant Shackleton and Dr. Wilson, who traveled nearly one thousand miles, drawing their sleds, after it had been necessary to kill the dogs owing to lack of food. Lieutenant Shackleton, who became ill, returned on the Morning, and is about to publish an account of the expedition. Another expedition headed by Lieutenants Armitage and Skelton went westward, climbing a glacier 9,000 feet high, the ice extending far inland. Other geographical results of interest were the discovery that Mts. Erebus and Terror are on a small island and that MacMurdo Bay is not a bay but a strait. The remaining scientific work of the expedition has not been reported on very fully. Magnetic work was carried on continuously, some 400 magnetograms having been taken; a seismograph was also working regularly; soundings and deep-sea dredgings were made, and undoubtedly valuable zoological and botanical collections were obtained.
THE SO-CALLED MOSQUITO DESTROYER.
The New York Sun of July 13 printed an article to the effect that the Public Health and Marine-Hospital Service had discovered a parasite which would destroy mosquitoes, and from the account it appears as if the service intended to breed these worms in order to use them as a practical means for combating the mosquito plague. As the proposition is one which will doubtless attract popular attention, it will be well to place the exact facts before our readers.
A comparison of the Sun's account with the publications of the service shows that the newspaper account is based directly upon an article by Dr. Stiles which is entitled 'A Parasitic Roundworm (Agamomermis culicis) in American Mosquitoes (Culex sollicitans),' and which appeared in 'Bulletin 13,' Hygienic Laboratory, of the service. In this article Dr. Stiles refers to several parasitic organisms which have been described from
mosquitoes in different parts of the world and adds a new one to the list. This is a roundworm about half an inch long which lives in the abdominal cavity. He says: "At a time when mosquitoes are subjected to such careful study, because of the important relations they bear to public health, especially in connection with malaria, yellow fever, etc., it is of interest to determine what parasites naturally infest thorn. This determination has its practical as well as its scientific value, for it enables us to eliminate certain non-pathogenic parasitic organisms from the life cycle of pathogenic organisms, stages of which may be found in mosquitoes. It further has its direct practical bearing in that the parasites of mosquitoes may multiply to such an extent as to become important factors in killing the insects, or at least in rendering them less fertile.
He also refers to a similar Agamomermis, which he found in mosquitoes in Leipzig and which, according to Leuckart, seems to have an influence in decreasing the numbers of mosquitoes. Finally Dr. Stiles says: "These cases represent interesting instances in nature, where a pest is subject to other pests which tend to hold the former in check."
We do not find in the article any suggestion that the Public Health Service is breeding these worms for practical purposes, as intimated by the Sun, in order to kill mosquitoes. In fact, it would take considerable study to determine whether such a plan would be practicable. If this parasite could be bred artificially in sufficient numbers it is by no means an impracticable proposition to utilize them to destroy mosquitoes in regions where the use of kerosene is difficult or impossible. We do not, however, gather from the article the impression that the service proposes any such plan at present. In fact, we can see technical difficulties in the way which would make the method rather expensive, and it would, at most, be applicable only under certain conditions. We can not, therefore, hold out any great hope that Agamomermis culicis, which the New York Sun has named the 'mosquito destroyer,' presents to us at present a substitute for kerosene and proper drainage. But we share the view expressed in the original article that this represents 'a case of parasitism of considerable interest' and that parasites of mosquitoes, like parasites of other animals, 'may multiply to such an extent as to become important factors in killing the insects, or at least in rendering them less fertile.'
RADIUM IN ENGLAND.
That marvelous substance radium, some account of which was published in the Popular Science Monthly for July, 1900, and June, 1903, still attracts the attention of both men of science and laymen throughout intellectual nations. In London recently the luminescent property of the rays issuing from the element was shown to King Edward and Queen Alexandra, on the occasion of their visit to the London Hospital, and the penetrating power of the rays was also demonstrated by the following: A pile of six pennies was placed over a small piece of radium and the light emitted was visible through the coins.
At the Museum of Natural History, London, the director has arranged a little exhibition with a view to giving the public an opportunity of seeing the material and some of its interesting properties. Its source is shown in specimens of uraninite, or pitchblende, one from mines in Cornwall, and the other from Bohemia; as is well known to readers of the Monthly, only a few decigrams of radium can be separated from a ton of the mineral, and the isolation of the element is difficult, owing to its chemical affinities with the metals of the alkaline earths (barium, strontium and calcium). In contrast with the velvety black, massive pitchblende, are a few decigrams of pure radium bromide, a white salt resembling exteriorly common salt. Near by is a salt of barium, the crystals of which are rendered luminous when exposed to the emanations from a radium compound, even when a pile of copper coins, or a piece of marble more than one inch in thickness, is placed between them. The labels on these specimens duly explain that these emanations also act in the dark on photographic plates, and make the air traversed by them conductive of electricity.
The exhibition also includes the following: A box blackened inside and mounted on a stand, the whole resembling somewhat a large photographic camera, especially since the open end of the box is screened with black velvet that might be mistaken for a focusing cloth. On raising this screen the visitor sees at the farther end in letters of light, the word R-A-D-I-U-M. This word has been painted with radium bromide on hexagonal sulphide of zinc, which becomes luminous when brought near a compound of radium. Thus the emission of light by the new element is demonstrated as effectively, though not so strikingly as by Sir William Crookes in his experiments at the conversazione of the Royal Society, when the scintillations of radium were rendered visible by means of a blende screen and intensified by the use of a lens of moderate magnifying power. Residents of London, and visitors to that metropolis, will enjoy forming practical acquaintance with radium and with some of its extraordinary properties that may be envied by citizens of America.
THE FRANKLIN PAPERS IN THE LIBRARY OF THE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY.
At the meeting of the American Philosophical Society last spring, Mr. J. G. Rosengarten gave an account of some seventy large folio volumes of Franklin's papers, preserved in the archives of the society. Franklin left all his papers to his grandson, William Temple Franklin, who, after a long interval, published in London and in Philadelphia six volumes of Franklin's works. Of course, this represented but a small part of his papers. Those used in the preparation of Temple Franklin's edition are now the property of the United States, which has never yet printed a calendar of them. Temple Franklin selected from his grandfather's papers those that he thought suitable for publication, and left the rest of them in charge of his friend, Charles Fox, to whom he bequeathed them, and Charles Fox, in turn, after a long lapse of years, presented them to the American Philosophical Society, in whose custody they have remained ever since.
They have been roughly classified, and are bound in a rude and careless way. Under the present efficient librarian. Dr. Hays, a calendar is being made as fast as the limited means at his disposal will permit, and, when it is completed, it is hoped that it will be printed as a useful guide to the miscellaneous matter collected here. Sparks, Hale, Ford, Parton, Fisher and others who have written about Franklin have used them, but even the most industrious student may well be appalled at the labor required to master all the contents of these bulky volumes representing Franklin's long and many-sided activity.
He kept copies of most of his own letters and the originals addressed to him, often indorsing on them the heads of his replies. These volumes contain papers from 1735 to 1790—the first forty four volumes, letters to him; the forty-fifth, copies of his own letters; the forty-sixth, his correspondence with his wife; the forty-seventh and forty-eighth, his own letters from 1720 to 1791; the forty-ninth, his scientific and political papers; the fiftieth, his other writings—notably his Bagatelles, those short essays which had such a vogue, and which are still read; the fifty-first, poetry and verse, his own and that of others, no doubt selected by him for use in his publications; the fifty-second, the Georgia papers—he was agent for that colony; and the remaining twenty volumes, all the multifarious correspondence, other than official, mostly during his long stay in France, his various public offices at home and abroad, his enormous correspondence about appointments from men of all nationalities, who wanted to come to America under his patronage to fight, to settle, to teach, to introduce their inventions for every imaginable and unimaginable purpose.
Both in England and France he kept all notices of meetings, such as those of the Royal Society, and other scientific bodies of which he was a member, invitations, visiting cards, notes, business cards, etc., and at home he kept copies of wills, deeds, powers of attorney, bonds, agreements, bills and drafts, checks, bills of lading, public accounts and even certified copies of acts of congress and account books. It is to be hoped that the preparation and publication of the calendar showing the contents of this rich mass of materials may be completed at no distant day, certainly by the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Franklin.
THE EDUCATION OF ENGINEERS.
At a recent meeting of the British Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Professor W. E. Dalby read a paper on 'The Education of Engineers in America, Germany and Switzerland.' According to the report in the London Times, the author pointed out that with scientific progress, changing methods of manufacture and the advent of electricity, there has been scarcely any change in the recognized methods of training engineers. At the present time, however, there is no difficulty in obtaining scientific instruction of a high character, and a training in workshop practise second to none can be secured in the factories of this country. The weak point is the want of cooperation between the workshops and the colleges. The author proceeded to give details of the course of instruction followed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, U. S. A.; at Sibley College, Cornell University; at the Berlin Technical High School, and at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School at Zurich. There is an essential difference in the methods of training in America and Germany.
In America the course of instruction is very exactly laid down; in Germany no student is compelled to take any special course, though, for his convenience, definite courses are laid down in the school calendar. At Zurich the course is partly prescribed and partly selected. The American course may be taken as 3,000 hours, distributed over four years; the continental course is 4,000 hours, distributed over three years, independently of laboratory work. The fourth year is not included, as it is cut up by examination work. In America a large proportion of the time is devoted to workshop practise; in Germany and Switzerland no time at all is thus occupied. The American courses are more practical in character and devote a large proportion of the course to the teaching of handicraft skill. In America a student finds himself with a degree or diploma at the age of twenty-one. Employers take him without premium and pay a wage sufficient for maintenance straightway, recognizing that his knowledge places him in a different position to ordinary apprentices. In this way they get highly-trained men into their works, and by their own observation soon discover whether the youth possesses, in addition to intellectual acuteness, the qualities which o-o to make a successful business man or a good organizer, and recruit their staff accordingly. The author suggested the question whether the British method of training was better or worse; whether the methods could be improved in the light of what was being done abroad. Most people, he said, would consider the methods of Charlottenburg and Zurich too academical; whilst many, though admiring the American system of workshop instruction, think it better it should be obtained under the practical conditions of actual work. A youth who is to become a leader in the future needs to know the habits and thoughts of the men. One thing the author considered certain—the American, German or Swiss student starts his college course with a far better education on which to build.
Dr. Carl Gegenbauer, the eminent anatomist, since 1863 professor at Heidelberg, died on June 15, at the age of seventy-seven years.—Dr. A. A. Common, F.R.S., known for his important researches in astronomy, especially in connection with reflecting telescopes, died on June 2, at the age of sixty-two years.
A committee of eminent chemists has been formed to erect a monument at Heidelberg in memory of Robert Bunsen. It is intended that the contributions shall be international; they may be sent to the treasurer, Herr A. Rodrian, Heidelberg.
The park commissioners of Chicago have approved the transfer of the Field Columbian Museum from Jackson Park to Grant Park, which is on the lake front in the center of the city. It is understood that Mr. Marshall Field has agreed to give $5,000,000 for the construction and endowment of the museum.—It is said that the trustees of the Rush Medical College, the medical department of the University of Chicago, have collected $1,000,000 for the institution, and that this assures a gift of $6,000,000 to the school by Mr. John D. Rockefeller.