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

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The Library, University of Virginia.
 

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA.

The inauguration of Dr. E. A. Alderman as the first president of the University of Virginia closes a historical period of eighty years, during which the institution has occupied a somewhat unique position in our educational system. The inscription prepared by Jefferson and inscribed on his tomb reads: 'Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.' The catalogue of the university devotes a page to the statement: "Founded by Thomas Jefferson.—' An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.'" And it is true that the university has maintained much of the intellectual aristocracy and democratic simplicity of its founder.

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The Leander McCormick Observatory.

There was no president, the administration being conducted by the faculty with their elected chairman and a rector and visitors representing the people through the governor's appointment. There were originally eight independent schools or departments—ancient languages, modern languages, mathematics, natural philosophy, moral philosophy, chemistry, medicine and law. A student could matriculate in any one of these schools, and the elective group system was thus early established. There were no entrance examinations; no distinction was made between cultural and professional studies; no degree other than 'graduate' was given on the completion of a course, but those who carried on research might receive the doctor's degree; no honorary degrees have ever been awarded; there were no required religious exercises. The university was one of the first to be endowed and supported by a state, and Jefferson planned that it should be the head of the public school system. Much of this sounds very modern, or rather perhaps in accord with the views of certain modern educators.

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Thomas Jefferson, Founder of the University of Virginia.

Virginia long maintained its position as the university of the south, being its home of scholarship and school of training for public life. Perhaps no other institution in the country prepared so many men for high official positions; and when the civil war came, it supplied about 1,500 officers to the confederate army. In spite of the ravages of the war, it by no means lost its prestige. Thus there are at present seven alumni who are United States senators and at least ten who are presidents of colleges and universities. The illustrations here given show that even after the disastrous fire of ten years ago, the university possesses suitable and beautiful buildings, and that the sciences are well cared for. It will suffice to name Professor Ormond Stone, director of the observatory, and Professor J. W. Mallet, F.R.S., who holds the chair of chemistry, to indicate the position held by the university in the sciences.

Dr. Alderman, who has been superintendent of schools, professor of pedagogy and for four years president of North Carolina and of Tulane, has the educational experience which will become more and more essential for a college president, and the gift of oratory which perhaps in the future will be regarded less highly than at present. His administration began with the announcement of gifts from our two ubiquitous eleemosynaryists, and there is every reason to foresee that the university will increase in wealth and in numbers.

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Dr. Edwin A. Alderman, First President of the University of Virginia.

The college president, like the political boss and the corporation promoter, certainly makes for organization and bigness, and for at least temporary efficiency. It was, however, a strange irony that led to the celebration of Jefferson's birthday by the inauguration of a president of the University of Virginia. A Jeffersonian democrat may hold almost any political opinions, but presumably the line must be drawn at the benevolent despot.

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The Rouss Physical Laboratory. The Mechanical Laboratory is on the opposite side of the lawn and is identical in appearance with the Rouss Laboratory.

While the accumulation of wealth and a certain kind of efficiency are undoubtedly attained by present methods in politics, in business and in education, they are probably passing phases in our democracy. It would be a severe arraignment of democracy and of higher education to hold that those who make a university can not conduct it. If the people will not directly support a university, they will not continue to do so indirectly through the

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The Chemical Laboratory.

gifts of millionaires. But the people are ready to maintain their universities. Wisconsin has this year appropriated $725,000 for its university; Virginia would in the end do more for its university than will ever be done by distant millionaires. It seems a pity that some of the complications inevitable in an imperfect democracy and the temporary backwardness of the south in appreciation of educational matters as compared with the central and western states have led the University of Virginia to diverge in the direction of our private eastern institutions instead of maintaining intact the democratic ideals of its founder.

 

PROFESSOR CHARLES A. YOUNG.

The retirement of Professor Charles Augustus Young from the active duties of the chair of astronomy and of the directorship of the Halstead Observatory at Princeton deserves more than a passing comment as a news item in this journal. A service of science for a period of more than fifty years in itself commands respectful attention; and the manner in which this service has been rendered, with lofty regard for truth and genuine interest in its diffusion, is almost unique in this generation.

He was to the manor born, for his grandfather, Ebenezer Adams, was professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Dartmouth from 1810 to 1833. His father, Ira Young, succeeded Ebenezer in the chair and occupied it with distinction until his death in 1858. Charles Augustus, born at Hanover, on December 15, 1834, was graduated as bachelor of arts from the college of his fathers in 1853. He made his first visit to Europe in that year, accompanying his father, who went to purchase instruments for the Shattuck Observatory then in process of erection at Hanover. The notebooks of the observatory contain many of the son's observations recorded during his undergraduate days. After two years spent in teaching the classics at Phillips' Andover, with simultaneous studies in the theological seminary, Charles Young went in 1857 to Hudson, to become professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at the Western Reserve College. During several summers he served as astronomical assistant on the government's lake survey. During 1862 he left his books at the call of patriotism, and assumed for some months the captaincy of a regiment of Ohio volunteers, largely composed of students.

He returned to Dartmouth in 1866, to the professorship of natural philosophy and astronomy formerly held by his father. It is fortunate that laboratory instruction was not then included in the teaching of natural philosophy, for otherwise time could hardly have been secured for the researches in astrophysics to which Professor Young's attention was enthusiastically given in the hours not spent in the class room. The significance of the spectroscope was clearly foreseen by him, and he devoted much time to its development.

At the total solar eclipse of 1869, he observed the spectrum of the corona. He looked for, but did not see, the reversal of the dark Fraunhofer lines at the instant of internal tangency of moon and sun. But in the following year, at a station in Spain, his expectations were realized in his detection of the 'flash spectrum.' This difficult visual observation was not photographically confirmed until the eclipse of 1896, when Mr. W. Shackleton, of Sir Norman Lockyer's party, obtained a fairly good plate; and in 1898 Sir Norman and others obtained very fine photographs of the elusive phenomenon. In the early seventies, Professor Young assiduously observed the solar prominences and the spectrum of the chromosphere. He obtained in 1870 the first photographic record of a solar prominence, but the lack of sensitiveness of the wet-plates then in use made it undesirable to follow the matter further at that time.

Professor Young's expedition to Wyoming in the summer of 1872, to utilize the advantages of an altitude of over eight thousand feet, added a hundred chromospheric lines to the list of 170 which he had observed at Dartmouth.

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Professor Charles A. Young.

It may be mentioned that this list has been but slightly enlarged since that date, and that by Professor Young himself at Princeton. In 1876, with the first grating spectroscope used in astronomical work, he made the pioneer measurements of the rotation of the sun from the relative displacements of lines on the approaching and receding: limbs. We are indebted to him for important observations on the spectrum of sun-spots, made after his removal to Princeton in 1879; also for measurements of Uranus and. double stars with the 23-inch refractor of the Halstead Observatory. Professor Young observed the transit of Venus of 1874 at Pekin, that of 1882 at Princeton; and he traveled to favorable points of observation of the solar eclipses of 1869, 1870, 1878, 1887 and 1900.

Despite the value of his original researches, so imperfectly sketched above, it is not for them that we most highly honor Professor Young. Nor is it for the excellence of his numerous textbooks on astronomy, which have been used by far more than a hundred thousand students and readers. It is rather for himself, his own personality, and for the lofty ideals which his life has so fully illustrated. A personal acquaintance is not necessary for the recognition of these qualities, for they appear in all his writings, whether popular or technical. Whatever things are taught must be 'correct and accurate as far as they go.' Truth must not be debased for the sake of popularization. The assumption premised must always be clearly indicated; and the limitations of our mode of observation kept in mind. Such principles as these have ever been illustrated by this teacher in his writings, on the lecture platform, and in the classroom.

The total absence of dogmatism or assertiveness. even in works on which he is preeminently an authority (as in The Sun), is conspicuous; and his tolerance for views different from his own, with his uniform avoidance of anything controversial in his teachings and writings, furnish an example which many younger and older men could follow to great advantage.

The vein of quaint humor which pervades his speech and literary work have been always appreciated by his friends and readers, and is an obvious part of his genial philosophy of life. Worries, cares and disappointments have not been absent, and for some years ill-health has added its burden. But the gentle influence of an ideal conjugal companionship, extending over more than forty years, always lightened these cares until the crushing bereaveent came four years ago.

As Professor Young now retires from active duties upon 'coming of age,' thousands of pupils, readers and friends, salute him. May many coming years be allotted to him, now in the ripe maturity of his mind, for reflection, study and contributions to the world's knowledge of other worlds.

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS.

The faculty of Princeton University gave a dinner on the evening of May 17 in honor of Professor Charles A. Young, who becomes professor emeritus after a service of twenty-eight years as professor of astronomy. Among the speakers were President Woodrow Wilson, of Princeton; President Francis L. Patton, of Princeton Theological Seminary; Mr. M. Taylor Pyne, of New York; Professor Silas Brackett, Professor W. F. Magie and Dr. Henry Van Dyke, who read a poem. A loving cup was presented to Professor Young.—Professor J. J. Thomson, F.R.S., of Cambridge University, has been elected professor of natural philosophy in the Royal Institution to succeed Lord Rayleigh, who becomes honorary professor.

Professor George T. Ladd, who has resigned from the chair of philosophy at Yale University, has arranged to pass the latter half of next year as professor of philosophy at Western Reserve University. At the close of the war in the east he expects to go to Japan to lecture on educational methods under the auspices of the Japanese Imperial Education Society.—Sir Patrick Manson has been invited to give the Lane lectures at the Cooper Medical College, California, this year. He will lecture on some aspect of tropical diseases.—The courses that Professor Wilhelm Ostwald, of the University of Leipzig, will offer at Harvard University during the first half of the approaching academic year are: 'The Philosophy of Natural Science,' three lectures a week, and 'The Fundamental Conceptions of Chemistry' and 'Catalysis,' each one hour a week.

At the annual anniversary meeting of the Royal Geographical Society, on May 22, Sir Clements Markham resigned the presidency of the society which he has held during the past twelve years. Sir George Goldie, founder of Nigeria, was elected to the presidency, Sir Clements Markham and Colonel D. A. Johnston were elected vice-presidents.—Columbia University has conferred its doctorate of science on President R. S. Woodward, of the Carnegie Institution.—Cambridge University has conferred the honorary degree of Sc.D. upon Commander R. F. Scott and Sir Francis E. Younghusband, K.C.I.E., LL.D.

The proposed affiliation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Harvard University was approved at a meeting of the corporation of the institute, on June 9. Thirty-two of the forty-seven members of the corporation were present, and by a vote of 20 to 12 it was agreed to accept the terms of the agreement recently drawn up by the committee of the two institutions.

It will be remembered that on May 5 the faculty of the institute adopted by a vote of 56 to 7 the report of the committee adverse to the affiliation.—At the annual meeting of the National Academy of Design it was voted to accept the offer of Columbia University to form an affiliation. It is planned to collect $500,000 for a building, which will be erected on a site furnished by Columbia University.—The cornerstone of the library building of Leland Stanford Junior University was laid on May 15. The building will cost $800,000. At the ceremonies an address to the students by Mrs. Stanford was read. In it she makes the amount realized from the sale of her jewels, which are estimated to be worth $500,000, an endowment fund for the library.

It is proposed to affix a marble tablet to the Villa Medici, which is French property, to remind passers by and posterity that Galileo was kept prisoner there from June 24 to July 6. 1633. Italy has already erected a small monument to Galileo at the very door of the villa, with the following inscription: "' The neighboring palace, which belonged to the Medici, was the prison of Galileo Galilei, guilty of having seen the earth revolving round the sun.