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

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Buidings of the Bureau of Government Laboratories, Manila.
 

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

SCIENTIFIC WORK IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.

The civil government of the Philippine Islands has been prompt in recognizing the importance of scientific work. The commission established in 1901 a Bureau of Government Laboratories and authorized the preparation of plans for a suitable building for the installation of biological and chemical laboratories. The commission was fortunate in securing as superintendent Dr. Paul C. Freer, professor of chemistry in the University of Michigan, under whose able direction the work has been organized and a building erected.

The illustration shows the building, which was designed with the assistance of the chief of the Insular Bureau of Architecture, Mr. E. K. Bourne, and is of pleasing and suitable architecture. In laboratory construction a low building has many advantages, and in the Philippine Islands the danger from earthquakes must be taken into consideration. In a tropical country coolness and ventilation are of great importance. Corridors, ten feet wide, run the entire length of the building, and as these are open at both ends a breeze usually passes through them. The laboratories are comparatively small rooms opening from the corridors. The building is divided into two symmetrical parts, the east half being used for biological and the west half for chemical work, with a library in the center. The power house has been placed in the rear, and in it is a serum laboratory. In addition to heat and electric power there are gas generators, compressed air, vacuum pumps and a refrigerating machine. The separate laboratories are provided with these conveniences for research and are well equipped with apparatus. The collection includes fifteen microscopes of the best Zeiss pattern, five Schanze microtomes and two Minot microtomes, incubators, balances, electrical furnaces and the like. The equipment is of special importance, as it takes at least seven months to procure new supplies from Europe or America. The library contains some 12,000 volumes and seventy sets of publications, and these again are essential where there is no access to large libraries.

The work done in the laboratories appears to be of much scientific value, twenty-two publications having been issued by members of the staff. It is, however, naturally difficult to secure scientific workers in distant and tropical regions unless they are attracted by the special problems that can only be solved there. The director of the laboratories hopes that facilities may be given similar, for example, to those at the Naples station, which will attract scientific workers to the islands. He also thinks it possible that the laboratories may be supported by gifts from those who are interested in the development of the islands or in the special problems that can only there be undertaken.

In addition to the scientific work undertaken by the Philippine government, the president of the United States has recommended that a scientific survey of the Islands be undertaken at the expense of the federal government. At his request the National Academy of Sciences appointed a committee to report on the desirability of instituting scientific explorations of the Islands, and this report was transmitted to the last congress
 
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Library, showing One of the Reading Tables.
 
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One of the Larger Hoods in the Chemical Laboratory.
 

by the president, with the recommendation that provision be made for the appointment of a board of surveys to superintend national surveys and explorations in the islands. This board would consist of representatives of the Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Geological Survey, the Biological Survey, the Division of Botany, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Fisheries and the Bureau of American Ethnology. The president urges that while these surveys would be beneficial to the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands, they should be undertaken as a national work valuable for the people of this country and of the world. It is to be hoped that congress will find time to take up this measure at the approaching session.

 

THE RUMFORD FUND.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has published a pamphlet regarding the Rumford Fund administered by it which contains some facts of general scientific interest. Benjamin Thompson, who was created a count by Prince Maximilian of Bavaria and who chose to be called Count Rumford after a New Hampshire town from which the family of his wife had come, was born in Massachusetts in 1753 and died in France in 1814. He founded the Royal Institution of Great Britain in 1799, and by a bequest established the Rumford professorship for the application of science to the useful arts at Harvard University. In 1796 he gave to the Royal Society of Great Britain and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences of Boston the sum of $5,000, the income of which in each case was to be given once every second year to the author of the most important discovery or useful improvement made during the preceding two years in heat or in light. The premium was to take the form of medals. An illustration of the medal awarded by the American Academy is here reproduced.

The Royal Society made the first award from the fund of Count Rumford himself in 1802; and every second year since, with the exception of several years, the medal has been awarded. The list of those on whom the premium has been conferred by the Royal Society is an illustrious series of men of science closing with Professor Ernest Rutherford, of McGill University, on whom it was conferred in 1904. The Royal Society was not limited in regard to the nationality of those on whom the premium could be conferred, but the American Academy by the terms of the gift could only confer it on authors on the continent of America or the American Islands. It appears that for many years there was no claimant whose merit was such in the opinion of the academy as to justify the award, and the fund accumulated to the amount of $20,000, when in 1831 application was made to the Supreme Court of Massachusetts for relief. It was ordered that in addition to the

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The Rumford Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

medals of the value of $300 which might be awarded every second year, the residue of the income could be used for the purchase of books and apparatus, for publications or for assisting investigation.

The first award of the Rumford premium of the Academy was made in 1839 to Robert Hare, of Philadelphia, for his oxyhydrogen-blowpipe, and the second was awarded in 1862 to John Ericsson for his caloric engine. Since that time the award has been made with tolerable regularity, the last awards having been made in 1902 to Professor George E. Hale for the spectroheliograph and in 1904 to Professor E. P. Nichols for his researches on radiation. The surplus income of the Rumford fund was at first awarded chiefly to the Harvard College Observatory and to other departments of Harvard University. The awards this year have been for researches as follows: Professor D. B. Brace, whose untimely death occurred this month, 'Double Refraction in Gases in an Electrical Field'; Charles B. Thwing, 'Thermo-electric Force of Metals and Alloys'; Harry W. Morse, 'Fluorescence'; John Trowbridge, 'Electric Double Refraction of Light'; Edwin H. Hall, 'Thermal and Thermo-electric Properties of Iron and Other Metals.' The Rumford fund now amounts to nearly $00,000, and is administered by a standing committee of the American Academy. Applications for aid in the furtherance of research on light and heat may be made to the chairman of the committee, Professor Charles R. Cross, in care of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Boston, Mass.

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The Galilee in San Diego Harbor.

 

THE MAGNETIC SURVEY OF THE NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN.

The Carnegie Institution of Washington has made an appropriation of $20,000 to cover the expenses for the current year of a Magnetic Survey of the North Pacific Ocean, to be made by its Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of which Dr. L. A. Bauer is the director. For this purpose a wood built, non-metallic sailing vessel of about 600 tons displacement, The Galilee, has been chartered at San Francisco. The scientific personnel at present consists of Mr. J. F. Pratt, commander; Dr. J. Hobart Egbert, surgeon and magnetic observer; Mr. J. P. Ault, magnetic observer, and Mr. P. C. Whitney, magnetic observer and watch officer. The sailing master is Captain J. T. Hayes.

Trial trips were made early in August under the direction of Dr. Bauer, and the ship set sail on September 1 for the Hawaiian Islands. After its return, it will depart early in 1906 for a more lengthy cruise, embracing nearly the entire circuit of the North Pacific Ocean. The total length of the course marked out is about 70,000 knots. It is not supposed that great irregularity in the distribution of the earth's magnetism will be found over the deep waters of the Pacific, but distortions are likely to occur along the coast and in the neighborhood of islands. Thus, as Dr. Bauer has pointed out, with the aid of the results of the detailed magnetic survey of the United States and Alaska, opportunity will be afforded of studying, the effect of the configuration of land and water on the distribution of the magnetic forces. The first circuit, passing as it does along the American and Asiatic coasts, will yield especially interesting results in this respect. Along the Aleutian Islands marked local disturbances will probably be disclosed, as reports are received frequently from mariners in this region regarding the unsatisfactory behavior of the compass.

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Elisée Reclus.

 

ELISÉE RECLUS.

M. Elisée Reclus, who died near Bruges, on July 4, in his seventy-sixth year, was an eminent geographer and an interesting personality. He was the son of a protestant pastor, one of a family of twelve children, several of whom have become eminent. The revolutionary spirit which he showed all through his life may have been responsible for his geographical work, for it was after he was expelled from France in 1851 that he spent six years in continuous travel. Reclus returned to Paris in 1857 and wrote numerous geographical articles and books, including the volumes that have been translated into English under the title 'The Earth.' During the siege of Paris, he took the side of the communists, though among them he was conservative. He was, however, again banished from France, and did not return until the general amnesty of 1879. In Switzerland he began his great 'Nouvelle geographie universelle,' the nineteen volumes of which were completed in 1894. He left at the time of his death an unpublished work in four volumes treating history as influenced by geographical conditions. During the later years of his life he was a professor in the University libre of Brussels. We reproduce here a portrait from La Nature. Reclus is said to have been a man of the most intense human sympathy, always ready to sacrifice himself for his communistic and anarchistic convictions. Yet he found time to accomplish a vast amount of work, noteworthy for its attractive style as well as for its scientific accuracy.

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS.

We regret to record the death of Professor De Witt Bristol Brace, head of the Department of Physics of the University of Nebraska, and of Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen, professor of geography in the University of Berlin.

Dr. W J McGee, U. S. Commissioner of the International Archeological and Ethnological Commission, lately chief of the department of anthropology and ethnology of the St. Louis Exposition and ethnologist in charge of the Bureau of American Ethnology, has been appointed managing director of the St. Louis Public Museum.-—H. Foster Bain, Ph.D. (Chicago), geologist of the U. S. Geological Survey and formerly assistant state geologist of Iowa, has been appointed state geologist of Illinois.—Dr. Melvill Dewey has resigned the directorship of the New York State Library and of the Home Education Department. It is expected that a statement may be made later in regard to the causes of Dr. Dewey's resignation and the future of the library school which he has conducted.

Mr. John D. Rockefeller has now paid to the General Education Board the $10,000,000 in accordance with the announcement made last June. The income, it will be remembered, will be distributed to promote a comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and it is assumed, though perhaps not correctly, that the larger part will be given to the denominational colleges. The secretary of the board is the Rev. Dr. Wallace Butterick, 54 William Street, New York City.—By the will of the late General Isaac J. Wistar, the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology of the University of Pennsylvania, found! ed by him, will receive the residue of 1 his estate, thought to amount to about $400,000.

Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co. announce that they will publish in eight volumes the Proceedings of the International Congress of Arts and Science, held at St. Louis, in September, 1904. The volumes, ranging from 500 to 800 pages, have the following titles: 1. 'Philosophy and Mathematics'; 2. 'Politics, Law and Religion'; 3. 'Language, Literature and Art'; 4. 'Inorganic Science'; 5. 'Biology and Psychology'; 6. 'Medicine and Technology'; 7. 'Social Sciences'; 8. 'Education and Religion.