Popular Science Monthly/Volume 67/December 1905/The Progress of Science

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

PSM V67 D760 Edmund Janes James.png
President Edmund Janes James.



The installation of Dr. Edmund Janes James as president of the University of Illinois, on October 18, gave occasion for an academic celebration of more than usual magnitude and significance. The exercises were extended over the greater part of a week, and delegates were in attendance from about two hundred colleges and universities. There were religious services on Sunday, October 15. On Monday the Women's Building, a view of which is shown below, was dedicated, and in the evening the university address was given by the Rev. Frank W. Gunsaulus, of the Armour Institute. On Tuesday there was in the morning a discussion on the 'State and Education,' and in the afternoon the National Conference of University Trustees began their sessions. These sessions were continued on Thursday, and at the same time there was a Conference on Religious Education in State Universities and Colleges, and a Conference on Commercial Education, which was continued on Friday. There were in the meanwhile assemblages of the various colleges, the presentation by students of Robert Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay and other arrangements. The formal inaugural exercises were on Wednesday. In the morning there was a reception of delegates with a roll call of the universities and responses by selected delegates. In the afternoon there were addresses by the Governor of Illinois, the president of the board of trustees and Dr. Andrew S. Draper, former president of the university, followed by the inaugural address of

PSM V67 D761 University of illinois library building.png
Library Building.

President James and the conferring of degrees.

Some part of the ceremony, such asPSM V67 D762 Street map of the university of illinois campus.png1, Men's gymnasium; 2, Armory; 3, Wood shop and foundry; 41, Metal shop; 5, Electrical and mechanical laboratory; 6, Reservoir; 7, Heating plant; 8, Pumping plant; 9, Applied mechanics; 10, Engineering hall; 11, Greenhouse; 12, President's house; 13, Library building; 14, University hall; 15, Natural history hall; 16, Law building; 17, Chemistry building; 18, Agricultural buildings; 19, Greenhouse; 20, Observatory; 21, Warehouse; 22, Veterinary building; 23, Insectary; 24, Woman's hall; 25, Mechanical engineering laboratory. processions in cap and gown, the formal reception of delegates with the presentation of Latin addresses and the conferring of degrees, may be more in place in an English university, where the medieval tradition has been continuous, than at the center of the population of a democratic nation. The conventional academic ceremonial has, however, certain advantages in a somewhat crude civilization, and it is easier to assume than the democratic dignity of Lincoln, who amid the distractions of the civil war signed the bill which laid the foundation for the university of his native state.

No one at that time could have foreseen the future of the university. Its growth did not begin so soon as that of Michigan and Wisconsin, but the three universities will soon stand in friendly rivalry to perform the greatest service, and will equal and may surpass Harvard, Yale and Columbia in number of students and probably in all the functions of a great university. It was only in 1885 that the Illinois Industrial University assumed its present name. The campus is shown in the accompanying illustration. There are now on it some twenty-five buildings, nearly all of pleasing architectural design, well-placed among grass and trees. Ten years ago there were in the university 550 students; there are now 3,594 students with 487 professors and other teachers. This remarkable growth, chiefly under the administration of President Draper, will doubtless be continued under the administration of President James.

Dr. James was born in Illinois in 1855. He was educated at the Illinois State Normal School, and later at Northwestern University, Harvard University and the University of Halle. He was principal of schools for four years, and in 1883 became professor of political science in the University of Pennsylvania, going in 1896 to the University of Chicago. Since 1902 he has been president of Northwestern University. He is the author of a number

PSM V67 D763 The womens building university of illinois.png

The Women's Building.

of books and papers on economic, public and educational questions, and has always taken a leading part in all movements for the advancement of his science and the extension of education. President James's views on education were clearly outlined in his inaugural address. He holds that the state university should be the central factor of the education in the state, but should cooperate with other institutions, public and private. He believes that the standard of the university should be continually raised, leaving to the colleges and schools the work of the lower classes and letting the university give 'the ultimate institutional training of the youth of the

PSM V67 D763 The engineering hall university of illinois.png

The Engineering Hall.

PSM V67 D764 Chemical laboratory university of illinois.png

The Chemical Laboratory.

country for all the various callings for which an extensive scientific training, based upon liberal preparation is valuable and necessary.'



One of the most interesting features of the program at the University of Illinois was the conference of trustees of Amercan colleges and universities. The invitation to this meeting was itself a document of real educational significance as it outlined with clearness certain problems of deep concern for higher education in the United States. Thus it said: "In England the old universities are self-governing bodies, controlled largely by the faculties; in France and Germany they are departments of the government, and so far as they are not directly under the control of the government, they are autonomous, that is, ruled by the faculties. In the United States alone we felt it necessary to create a third organ, an independent, often self-renewing

PSM V67 D764 College of agriculture university of illinois.png

The College of Agriculture.

PSM V67 D765 University of illinois in the 1880s.png

The University Twenty Years Ago.

body of non-experts, in whose hands the entire legal control has usually been placed"; and the first of the ten questions proposed for discussion was: "What should be the real administrative body of a college or university, the faculty or the trustees?"

The clear and frank statement of the problem in the invitation was maintained in the papers and discussions. Dr. Draper opened the conference with an eloquent address on the university presidency. He held that the chief duty of the trustees is to select a great man for president and thereafter to give him a free hand in all directions. He should be the supreme legislator, executive and judge. This point of view was questioned by Mr. J. P. Munroe, a trustees of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Professor Joseph Jastrow, of the University of Wisconsin, and Professor C. E. Bessey, of the University of Nebraska. It was argued that while the autocratic president may gather wealth and produce an efficient machine, such an officer is subversive of democratic ideals and true scholarship, tending in the end to demoralize the academic career.

Dr. Draper was careful to abstain from any laudation of what he had himself accomplished during his presidency of the University of Illinois, but

the impressive material progress of the institution was evident on all sides, and was the strongest argument in favor of a benevolent despotism. It seems therefore fair to call attention to two facts. It is not certain that the University of Illinois is as great a center of education, scholarship and research as might be hoped from its generous support, and its material progress may have been due to a socialistic governor of the state rather than to an autocratic president of the university.

It is indeed on open question as to how far the increasing wealth of our universities, whether from private gifts or from legislative appropriations, is due to the office of the president. It may be that the office is the result of the fact that wealth and numbers have increased more rapidly than they can be assimilated. The ways of scholarship, like the ways of democracy, are slow; but creative scholarship and a free democracy are high ideals, not to be lightly sacrificed to machinery whose only possible use would be the attainment of such ideals.



Man has speculated on the extent and structure of the visible universe ever since the beginning of history. But however ingenious and plausible some
PSM V67 D766 Milky way in sagittarius and surrounding regions.png
Photograph of the Milky Way in Sagittarius and Adjacent Regions-showing Extremes in Stellar Distribution.

of the resulting cosmologies may be, they must, nevertheless, be regarded as little more than guesses, since the scientific data necessary to a sound conception of the problem are still lacking. The chief elements required are the determination of the number, distribution, constitution, brightness, distance and motions of the stars. All these determinations are now possible to science, at least in part, although only a few decades ago several of them would have seemed impossible.

A recent contribution of great importance in this line is a study of the 'Distribution of Stars,' by Professor Edward C. Pickering, director of the Harvard Observatory. The memoir forms Part V., Vol. XLVIII., of the Annals of the Observatory. This research was rendered possible only as a result of the extended work in stellar photometry which has been carried on by the author during the last quarter of a century. Nearly two million observations of the brightness of the stars have been made by him and his assistants at the Cambridge and Arequipa stations of the observatory. Upon these results especially, and also upon the various Durchmusterungs, and the work of Father Hagen, the investigation is based.

Two very important facts are brought out by this research. Hitherto it has been supposed that the proportion of faint stars to the whole number is much greater in the milky way than in other parts of the sky. This may still be true for very faint stars, but Professor Pickering shows conclusively that, for all stars whose magnitudes have been determined, the proportion of bright and faint stars is practically the same in the milky way as elsewhere in the sky, and that the stellar density is only about twice as great.

From theoretical considerations Professor Pickering derives the formula, log in which N is the number of stars brighter than a given magnitude M. A comparison of the results of observation, however, shows that the coefficient of M is never greater than 0.52, and that this value, which is fairly uniform for the brighter stars, grows rapidly less for the faintest stars whose magnitudes have been determined. An inspection of Table XXI. of the memoir shows that for the stars visible to the naked eye, the whole number brighter than a given magnitude is from three to four times as great as that of the next lower magnitude; that is, for example, there are 3.3 times as many stars of the fifth magnitude and brighter, as of the fourth magnitude and brighter. For fainter stars the ratio steadily decreases, until for the twelfth magnitude the number is little more than twice that for the eleventh magnitude. This curve of distribution is remarkable. If the rate of decrease continues with equal rapidity for successive magnitudes, it would lead apparently toward the ratio unity at the eighteenth or twentieth magnitude, which would imply the limit—possibly very ill-defined—of our universe. This conclusion is, however, still very uncertain, since reliable observations of brightness are available only to the twelfth magnitude. Professor Pickering is careful to draw few conclusions beyond the reach of actual observation. He says, however, 'As estimates are given which are still more uncertain than these, it may be stated that the number of stars corresponding to the magnitude 15, or which would be visible in a telescope of 15 inches aperture, would be about eighteen million, and the increase for larger apertures would be surprisingly small.' With the mounting of the great five-foot reflector at Cambridge, however, there seems to be little doubt but that the determinations of brightness will be extended to the faintest stars which can be reached at the present day. Before many years we shall perhaps know whether our universe is simply a limited region in the infinite.



The Bureau of the Census has issued a bulletin on the proportion of children in the United States, containing valuable statistics secured at the last census and a discussion by Professor Walter F. Willcox, of Cornell University. There is unfortunately verv little exact knowledge concerning the birth rate or the size of families in the United States; but in some ways the proportion of children to the total population or to the number of women of child-bearing age is more significant than the birth rate. The birth rate, which is usually given as the number of births each year per thousand population, is only significant when taken in connection with the death rate. The birth rate has been steadily decreasing in all civilized countries, and most rapidly in the countries that are regarded as the most civilized, but at the same time the death rate has been decreasing nearly in same proportion, so that the increase of population per thousand inhabitants has remained nearly stationary in recent decades. But these, figures require further analysis. In so far as the decreased death rate is due to the saving of the lives of healthy infants, it can to real advantage supplement the decreasing birth rate. In so far, however, as the decreasing death rate is due to the prolongation of life beyond the age at which children are likely to be born, or in so far as it is due to saving the lives of children who are constitutionally feeble, the result in the next generation will be a sharp decline in the birth rate without any further decrease in the death rate. The size of family again is not significant unless taken in connection with the number of children that survive and the proportion of people who are married.

The number of children under five years of age compared with the number of women from fifteen to forty-nine years of age is given in the census,

and these figures are perhaps as simple and convenient as any for the study of changes in the fertility of the population. They should, however, be correlated with the birth rate and death rate and the size of family, and require further analysis, immigration and alteration in the frequency of death at different ages being complicating factors. The bulletin shows that at the beginning of the nineteenth century the children under 10 years of age constituted one third and at the end less than one fourth of the total population. The decrease in this proportion began as early as the decade 1810 to 1820, and continued uninterruptedly, though at varying rates, in each successive decade. This of itself, however, is not enough to prove a declining birth rate, as the decrease in the proportion of children in the total population may indicate merely an increase in the average duration of life and the consequent survival of a larger number of adults.

But by taking the proportion of children to women of child-bearing age we are able to get a more satisfactory index of the movement of the birth rate. Between 1850 and 1860, the earliest decade for which figures can be obtained, this proportion increased. But since 1860 it has decreased without interruption. The decrease has been very unequal from decade to decade, but if twenty-year periods are considered, it has been very regular. In 1860 the number of children under 5 years of age to 1,000 women 15 to 49 years of age was 634; in 1900 it was only 474. In other words, the proportion of children to potential mothers in 1900 was only three fourths as large as in 1860. One is thus led to the conclusion that there has been a persistent decline in the birth rate since 1860.

A comparison is made between the proportion of children born of native mothers to 1,000 native women of child-bearing age and the proportion of children born of foreign-born mothers to 1,000 foreign-born women of childbearing age. In 1900 the former proportion was 462, the latter 710, the difference indicating the greater fecundity of foreign-born women. The comparison also indicates that the total decrease in fecundity of white women between 1890 and 1900 was the I result of a decrease for native white women partly offset by an increase for foreign-born white women.



Medical journals have now reached this country giving an account of the Congress on Tuberculosis, held in Paris, in October, of which the most dramatic episode was the announcement by Professor von Behring of an alleged cure for consumption. A report of his statement was cabled to the daily papers and was doubtless received with too great hope on some sides and too great scepticism on others. It will be remembered that when Professor Koch announced the discovery of tuberculin in 1890, the results did not fulfil the promises. It remains true, however, that tuberculin has proved a valuable method of diagnosis, and that it has certain remarkable effects on the tuberculous foci present in the body. These foci are in fact thrown off in matter that is dead so far as tissue cells are concerned, but which unfortunately still contain living bacilli, which are likely to be again distributed through the body. Modifications of tuberculin have been proposed by Koch himself, by Klebs, by Landmann, by Maragliani and by others, but never with results that have commanded the assent of the scientific world.

It appears that Professor von Behring's communication to the congress was made at the closing session, contrary to his intentions, as a result of pressure brought to bear on him in one way or another. His statement was so brief that such importance as it may have consists mainly in the facts that he announced that the details of his researches are in press for publication and his own confidence that he had found a curative principle for tuberculosis. This principle, to which he gives the name 'TC,' is obtained from the tubercle bacilli after various toxic portions, including Koch's tuberculin, have been removed. The substance is resorbable by the lymphatic cells, differing thus from the humeral immunity of the antitoxins. The state of immunity of the organism evolves parallel with the metamorphosis of the cells under the influence of TC. Professor von Behring has as yet only made experiments with laboratory animals, but he expects that the harmlessness and therapeutic value of the remedy will be demonstrated by clinicians within a year. Professor von Behring's announcement would be received with pretty complete scepticism if it were not for the fact that the curative effects of his diptheretic anti-toxin have been accepted by the medical world.

It appears that no other papers of special importance were presented to the congress. The time was spent largely in receptions, dinners and excursions, the last mentioned being of much value to the delegates as illustrating the most advanced French me thods of treating tuberculosis. The next meeting of the congress will be in Washington in 1908, the invitation being presented by Drs. Flick, Jacobs, Beyer and Knopff.



We regret to record the deaths of Sir William Wharton, F.R.S., hydrographer of the British Navy; Major General Sir Charles Wilson, F.R.S., director-general of the British Ordnance Survey; Dr. Sylvester Dwight Judd, formerly assistant biologist in the U. S. Department of Agriculture, and Dr. Wilhelm Johann Friedrich von Bezold, professor of physics and meteorology at the University of Berlin.

The Bolyai prize of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has been awarded to M. Poincaré.—The eightieth birthday of Dr. F. A. March, professor of English and comparative philology at Lafayette College, was celebrated on October 25, when Professor W. B. Owen made an address of congratulation. The trustees of the college have offered to retire Professor March with full salary, but he prefers to continue his usual duties.

Professor Robert Koch, who has been at Amaris in West Usambara and at Uganda to complete his researches on trypanosomes and sleeping sickness, expected to reach Berlin on October 23.—Dr. Arthur Stähler, assistant in the chemical laboratory of the University of Berlin, has been sent by the minister of education to Harvard University to pursue studies in inorganic chemistry under Professor T. W. Richards.

The inaugural meeting of the British Science Guild was held on October 30, at the Mansion House, London. The objects of the guild are (1) to bring together as members of the guild all those throughout the empire interested in science and scientific method, in order, by joint action, to convince the people, by means of publications and meetings, of the necessity of applying the methods of science to all branches of human endeavor, and thus to further the progress and increase the welfare of the empire; (2) to bring before the government the scientific aspects of all matters affecting the national welfare; (3) to promote and extend the application of scientific principles to industrial and general purposes; (4) to promote scientific education by encouraging the support of universities and other institutions where the bounds of science are extended, or where new applications of science are devised.