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

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

DR. WILLIAM OSLER.

In the acceptance by Dr. William Osier of the regius professorship of medicine in the University of Oxford, the Johns Hopkins University loses its professor of medicine, the Johns Hopkins Hospital its physician-in-chief, and the medical profession in America a leader untiringly devoted to its service.

Dr. Osier is one of several talented brothers, sons of an episcopal clergyman in Canada. His life has thus far been a series of successes, long enough and valuable enough to give him a permanent and distinguished place in the annals of American medical history. He is still a relatively young man, younger even than his fifty-six years would indicate, and it may with confidence be predicted that important additions to his records of service will follow upon his residence in England.

In Montreal, as a young physician, he taught physiology, pathology and clinical medicine for ten years after graduation, at the end of which period he accepted a professorship of clinical medicine in the University of Pennsylvania. Five years later he was appointed to the Johns Hopkins positions, in which, during the past sixteen years, his most important work has been done. The results of his Baltimore activities testify to the sagacity of the men who selected him to meet the unique opportunities which the hospital and university there offered.

The services Dr. Osier has rendered, though difficult to estimate accurately at this nearness, has certainly been varied. It includes that of an investigator, of a medical teacher, of a practitioner, and last, by no means least, of an ethical preacher.

As an investigator, his earlier studies dealt with the histology of the blood, and his name is well known in the bibliography of the nucleated red corpuscles and the blood-platelets. Later on, his researches consisted chiefly in the combination of accurate clinical observation with careful post-mortem examinations. Among his best known publications are those dealing with acute ulcerative endocarditis, the cerebral palsies of children, chorea and allied disorders, typhoid fever, tuberculous pleurisy, abdominal tumors and chronic cyanosis. Though in the Johns Hopkins period his many teaching and executive duties, together with a rapidly increasing consultation practise, did not leave him much consecutive time for original work, he was ever stimulating the young men about him to undertake such work and encouraging them by sympathy and affording opportunity.

As a teacher of medicine Dr. Osier achieved extraordinary success. He knew how to excite enthusiasm in those who followed him through the wards or listened to him in the amphitheater or the dispensary. He is one of the few teachers of internal medicine who have competed successfully with the surgeon and the gynecologist in holding the attention and inspiring the interest and ambition of the medical student and young medical graduate. In the hospital he adopted the English-Scotch system of clinical clerkship in the wards, and improved upon it. He did away with didactic lectures and made his students, even before graduation, learn medicine by studying themselves the patients directly, using books and teachers only as guides and aids. The importance of thorough objective routine examination was urged; the laboratory and the current literature

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Dr. William Osler.

were constantly called upon to throw light upon unusual phenomena. His idea that responsibility is essential for serious study and for real development has borne fruit in the students upon whom it has been his custom to place as much as could safely be carried. More widespread in its influence than his personal teaching has been that of the many editions of his text-book. No volume on internal medicine has ever had a larger sale or met with more universal commendation than Osier's 'Principles and Practise.' It is a model, at the same time, of brevity and comprehensiveness. Clear and practical, it reveals an unusual power to sift out non-essentials. It is rich in records of personal experience but it embodies also the pith of the wisdom of medical minds of all times and of all countries. Through marvelous industry and constant contact with young men in the various scientific branches, the author has kept his ideas in every department of medicine abreast of the times.

As a practitioner the humanitarian side of the physician was fully as prominent as the intellectual. In the wards and among the out-patients, students were shown by example that qualities of the heart as well as those of the head are essential for the proper practise of medicine. Osier educated his patients more than he drugged them, many will agree, to their benefit. His private practise, confined to consultation, was small at first, but gradually assumed proportions which made it a burden. No small percentage of it consisted in the non-remunerated examination and treatment of physicians and members of the physician's families from all parts of the United States and Canada. He gained a great reputation in the profession for accuracy of diagnosis, and for acquaintance with the rarer syndromes, and while he was thought by some to be unduly pessimistic regarding pharmaco-therapy, it is. probable that his influence in combating its excesses has more than compensated for any inadequate appreciation he may have had of it. A foe to quackery and graft in all forms, Dr. Osier is also an enemy of the commercial spirit in medicine. Though he has attained a competence, he has reaped no financial reward commensurate with his services, nor does any man animated by similar ideals.

For those who know Professor Osier, the strength, charm and influence of his personality are fully as important as his scientific contributions. His example of fine living and high thinking, his hospitality, his sense of social duty. his devotion to the profession and all that pertains to its dignity and elevation, his sacrifice of comfort, time and energy for the upbuilding of medical libraries and medical societies, his interest in and support of humanitarian movements, including crusades against tuberculosis and anti vivisection, his generosity to, and sympathy with, struggling young medical men, especially those with scientific bent, his honoring of the master minds of medicine and medical heroes, his love of literature—especially of Plato and of Sir Thomas Browne—his fondness for old books, his humor, his philosophy of cheerfulness, his respect for age, despite newspaper calumnies of him, and, above all, his never-failing charity have had a deep influence upon those who have come in contact with him. By means of the recently published volume entitled 'Æquanimitas and other Addresses' and through his farewell message to the medical profession of this country,[1] some idea of this side of Dr. Osier may be gained, even by those who have not had the privilege of knowing him.

It must be pleasing to Americans to know that the portrait of Professor Osier recently presented to the University of Pennsylvania and the portrait of the group of four Johns Hopkins medical men, including him, painted this summer by Sargent, a gift from Miss Garrett to the medical school of Baltimore, will preserve for succeeding generations the features of this distinguished medical man, of whom the citizens of a country, his more than twenty years by adoption, are justly proud. The photograph here reproduced is an excellent likeness.

 

PROFESSOR WILHELM OSTWALD.

Under the new arrangement by which Harvard and Germany exchange professors, Wilhelm Ostwald, of Leipzig, is to lecture at Cambridge for half of the coming academic year. Ostwald was born in Riga, in 1853. At the University of Dorpat he studied chemistry and physics, receiving the first degree in 1875 and the doctor's degree in 1878. From 1875 to 1880 he was assistant in the physical laboratory. The salary was not large, and during part of this period Ostwald made both ends meet by giving lessons in music

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Professor Wilhelm Ostwald.

and painting. In 1881 he was called to Riga as professor of chemistry in the polytechnic institute. The inspiring effect of Ostwald's teaching was shown in the rapid growth of the laboratory, the number of students much more than doubling in six years. In 1887 Ostwald went to Leipzig as professor of physical chemistry. The first year was a discouraging one; but Ostwald's ability was recognized before long. The old laboratory was soon filled to overflowing, and the building of a new laboratory remedied this for a few years only.

From the first, Ostwald's scientific work has been in the field of what is now called physical chemistry. Feeling the need of a systematic presentation of the subject he began in 1884 the publication of the first edition of his 'Lehrbuch der allgemeinen Chemie.' The modern physical chemistry may be said to date from this time. In 1886, Ostwald decided that a special journal was necessary and in 1887, while still at Riga, he started the Zeitschrift für physikalische Chemie which is now in its fifty-third volume.

Ostwald is essentially a leader of men. He has the personal magnetism which attracts and inspires people; he is always a little in advance of the majority, and he has the power of expressing himself in such a way as to interest and convince others. It is to Ostwald that the wonderful development of physical chemistry in the last twenty years is due. We owe the osmotic theory of solutions to van't Hoff; the theory of electrolytic dissociation to Arrhenius; and the theory of the voltaic cell to Nernst; but it is Ostwald who has taken these theories, has developed them and has forced the world to accept them. No one else could have fought the good fight as Ostwald has done. He has founded a distinct school, the Leipzig school as it is sometimes called. A large majority of the active physical chemists of today have worked in Ostwald's laboratory at one time or another; but his influence is not confined to his pupils. There is probably no man living whose opinions have so much immediate weight in the world of chemists as does that of Ostwald.

Ostwald's record during the last twenty-one years is an extraordinary one, whether judged by quality or quantity of work. The first edition of the 'Lehrbuch der allgemeinen Chemie' consisted of two substantial volumes; but it is dwarfed by the second edition which runs to over thirty-four hundred pages and is not yet finished. The other books on chemistry include a short introductory volume on physical chemistry, a laboratory manual of physical chemistry, a history of electrochemistry, a volume on the scientific principles underhung analytical chemistry, a text-book of inorganic chemistry, and an elementary book in dialogue form. All this is in addition to lectures, laboratory work and editorial duties. This last item is a serious one, because a large percentage of the papers published in the Zeitschrift für physikalische Chemie come from Ostwald's laboratory and because he reviews all the new books, and has, until the last few years, written critical reviews of many of the current articles on physical-chemical subjects appearing in other journals. Over and above this, Ostwald is the editor of a series of reprints of important chemical papers.

Mention has already been made of the fact that Ostwald at one time gave lessons in music and painting. As results of this we have an unpublished course of lectures on the theory of harmony and a book on painting. Every year Ostwald spends a large part of his vacations in sketching, using a modified form of pastel which is his own invention.

A very natural result of Ostwald's literary work in chemistry has been his growing interest in the theory of knowledge. Beginning as an ardent admirer of Mach, he has devoted more and more time in recent years to philosophy. With characteristic energy he has started a journal of philosophy and has published in book form a course of lectures on philosophy delivered in Leipzig in 1901. It must be admitted that Ostwald ranks higher at present as a chemist than as a philosopher; but it was as a philosopher that Ostwald attended the International Congress of Arts and Science at St. Louis, and he is to lecture at Harvard both on chemistry and on philosophy.

 

THE ECLIPSE OF THE SUN.

A total solar eclipse is an event which appeals in equal measure to the scientific investigator and to the popular imagination. Yet the interest is not only different, but to a certain extent conflicting. The astronomer is concerned with certain technical problems, such as the composition of the corona, which have less connection with human welfare than most scientific questions. The popular interest is largely due to the awe-inspiring character of the event, a survival perhaps from the time when this was the occasion of portents and omens. It may be assumed that the simple explanation of the moon's shadow will gradually do away with the apparent marvel of this phenomenon, though the accuracy with which it can be foretold will continue to impress the unlearned with the wonders of the science, which has been called both 'the queen of the sciences' and the 'science of pure curiosity.'

The eclipse of August 30 was for several reasons of more than usual interest. The path of the shadow passed over accessible regions, in part of which at least the weather conditions were likely to be favorable; stations could be chosen as far apart as Labrador and Egypt; the period of totality was comparatively long, and there will be no eclipse for seven years. As is shown in the illustration, the long shadow which the moon casts in space, struck the earth south of Hudson's Bay. The spot of darkness, about 120 miles broad and traveling at the rate of about 2,000 miles an hour, passed over Labrador and the Atlantic Ocean, and struck the Spanish coast at the Bay of Biscay. It traversed Leon, Burgos and Valencia, the islands of Majorca and Iviza, reached the Algerian coast near Philippeville, thence struck inland across Tunisia, skirted Tripoli, crossed the Nile at Assuan, and finally in Arabia, passed away from the earth into space again.

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Path of Total Eclipse.

Along this line there gathered during the month of August numerous parties from America (including Canada and Mexico), Great Britain, Fiance, Germany, Russia. Italy, Holland, Switzerland and Spain. Two of the most elaborate of the expeditions were from this country—that of the Naval Observatory, under Rear Admiral Chester, which was carried on a warship to Algeria with very complete equipment, and that from the Lick Observatory, the expenses of which were paid by Mr. William H. Crocker. The latter consisted of three parties, one in Labrador, one in Spain and one in Egypt, each equipped with a 40-foot photographic telescope, the object being to take similar photographs, to determine any change that may occur in the corona in the course of the two and a half hour interval between the observations in Labrador and in Egypt. English observers also had stations in Labrador and Egypt, with similar objects. It appears, unfortunately, that the sky was completely clouded in Labrador, and that there were haze and floating clouds in Spain and the north of Africa, except at Assuan. No definite information in regard to the results of the observations is as yet available. Director Campbell and Professor Perrine, of the Lick Observatory, in Spain, and Professor Hussey, at Assuan, took extensive photographs in | search for a possible planet between the sun and Mercury. The photographs have probably not as yet been examined, but Professor Perrine's results in Sumatra make the existence of such a planet unlikely.

As events of general interest in connection with the eclipse, it. may be noted that the Spaniards made special arrangements when the circumstances were so auspicious for them. Thus the Jesuit Observatory, at Tortosa, was in the line of the shadow, and no fewer than eighty Jesuit fathers skilled in astronomy assembled there. Japan has been justly praised for not letting its scientific and educational activities be interrupted by the war. and it seems fair to note that Russia was represented by several expeditions in Spain and Egypt. A large party, chiefly of amateur astronomers, observed the eclipse from the steamer Arcadia.

As it will be some time before the scientific results will be made public, readers of this Journal may be referred to the article by Director Campbell, of the Lick Observatory, printed in the issue of June of last year for an admirable account of the problems of the present eclipse. It may also be well to mention the articles on the two preceding eclipses that were observed, that by Professor Perrine on the eclipse of 1901 (August, 1(10.3), and that by Secretary Langly on the eclipse of 1900 (July, 1900).

 

THE FISH PONDS OF THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS.

The last part of an extensive study of the fishes of the Hawaiian Islands, by President David Starr Jordan and Dr. W. Barton Evermann, published by the United States Fish Commission, contains a discussion of the commercial fisheries by Mr. John M. Cobb. He describes the fish ponds of the islands, which are on a much larger scale than can be found elsewhere in the United States. Some of the ponds are supposed to have been built as long as two hundred and fifty years ago, and are attributed by the natives to a mythical race of dwarfs, distinguished for cunning industry and engineering skill. The ponds are mostly in the bays indenting the shores of the islands, but there are also many ponds in the interior, and at least one is an old volcanic crater. In the sea ponds the walls are about five feet in width, and are built loosely to let the water percolate.

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Interior Fish Pond, Waikiki, Oahu.

They have sluice gates and the fish come in from outside. They are also caught in the open sea and brought to the enclosures, but practically no attempt at fish culture is made. The fish in the sea-ponds are mostly Amara, or mullet, and the awa, but a larger variety is found in the fresh and brackish water ponds. There are probably not more than half as many ponds in use now as there were thirty years ago, owing chiefly to the disappearance of the native population, but partly because the interior ponds can be used for the culture of rice and taro. There are, however, still on the Island of Oahu fish ponds, several of which are a hundred acres or more in size. These ponds supply annually more than half a million pounds of fish, valued at $140,000.

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS.

The British Association for the Advancement of Science has held a successful meeting in South Africa under the presidency of Professor George H. Darwin, of Cambridge. Professor E. Ray Lankester, director of the British Museum of Natural History, has been elected president for 1906.—The seventy-seventh meeting of German Men of Science and Physicians was held in Meran last month under the presidency of Dr. Franz von Winckel, professor of gynecology, at Munich.—The American Anthropological Association has met at San Francisco under the presidency of Dr. Frederic Ward Putnam, of Harvard University and the University of California. The program contained the titles of thirty-nine papers.

Professor T. C. Chamberlin, of the University of Chicago, has been appointed a member of the Illinois Geological Survey Board. The other members are ex-officio Governor Deneen and President James, of the State University.—Dr. Rubert Boyce, of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, has come to this country to cooperate with i the authorities at New Orleans in supj pressing the epidemic of yellow fever. — Sir Patrick Manson, medical adviser to the English colonial office, has arrived at San Francisco, to deliver a course of lectures on tropical diseases at the Lane Hospital.

The arctic steamer Terra Nova, which went to the relief of the Ziegler polar expedition, has rescued Capt. Fiala and all the others connected with the expedition. Mr. W. J. Peters, of the U. S. Geological Survey, who, on the nomination of the National Geographic Society, was placed in charge of the scientific work of the expedition, reports that a considerable amount of scientific work has been accomplished.

 

 

When the Popular Science Monthlywas established in 1872, the first number was issued in November, and for the past thirty-three years the volumes have begun with the November and May numbers. Most subscriptions to the Monthly, however, begin with January, and it is in the interest of subscribers to receive complete volumes. It is also more convenient in quoting a journal for the year to correspond with the volume. We shall consequently include eight numbers in the present volume. The index will be given in the December number and volume LXVIII. will begin in January, 1906.

  1. 'Unity, Peace and Concord,' J. Am. M. Assoc, Chicago, XIV., 1905, p. 365.