Popular Science Monthly/Volume 69/October 1906/The Progress of Science

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PSM V69 D384 Main building of the university of toronto.png
The Main Building of the University of Toronto.
 


THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE BRITISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION AND THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

The British Medical Association held its seventy-fourth meeting at Toronto, beginning on August 21. There were in attendance about 1,400 British and Canadian members of the association and about GOO visitors and guests from the United States. In addition to some 300 members from the British islands*, there were delegates from India, South Africa and other widely separated parts of the British Empire, and several scientific men from the European continent. The meeting had thus many of the advantages of an international gathering, without the polyglot confusion. Dr. R. A. Reeve, dean of the Medical Faculty of the University of Toronto, made the presidential address, and there were addresses in medicine, by Sir James Barr; in surgery, by Sir Victor Horsley. and in obstetrics, by Dr. W. S. A. Griffeth. The sections covered dermatology, laryngology and otology, medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, pediatrics, pathology and bacteriology, physiology, psychology state medicine, surgery and therapeutics. As usual in British scientific meetings, the social features were prominent, and the excursions numerous and well arranged.

Not the least interesting part of the meeting was the opportunity of visiting Toronto and its great university. The movement which ended in the establishment of the University of Toronto was initiated in the eighteenth century, but the institution, which was originally called King's College, was not opened until 1843. Numerous

PSM V69 D385 University of toronto medical building 1906.pngThe New Medical Building.

PSM V69 D386 University of toronto library 1906.png

The Library.

changes in organization took place, and other colleges were established, which have since been affiliated with the university. It is strictly a state institution, but has entered into wide affiliations and has received large private gifts. Several of the buildings of the university are shown in the accompanying illustrations. The main building, which was the headquarters of the association, was completed in 1858, but it was partly destroyed by

PSM V69 D386 University of toronto science building 1906.png

The New Science Building.

fire in 1890 and rebuilt with important improvements. The new medical building was opened three years ago. The university library, erected almost wholly by private subscription, was completed in 1892. The chemical building was first occupied in 1895, and a new building for applied science was used for the first time by the section of state medicine.

 

THE NATIONAL PURE FOOD LAW

The McCumber-Heyburn-Hepburn federal food and drug law goes into effect on January the first. It includes in its provisions all substances intended for human consumption. It is the most comprehensive measure ever enacted by congress for the control of interstate industries. Its provisions apply to the District of Columbia and to the territories, to exports and imports and to interstate shipments. To receive full benefits from its operation, it will be necessary for each state and city to maintain cooperative inspection over its own commerce, for the law will j not apply to adulteration and misbranding practised wholly within the state.

The enforcement of any law depends upon evidence. For this reason it is difficult to enforce laws against industrial combinations and discriminations because the evidence of violation can only be had through a knowledge of the inward transactions of the interest. In enforcing the food law the secret schemes of a board of directors or a manufacturing manager will be at once liable to detection, by an examination or analysis of the product put upon the market. The profession of chemistry is well equipped with means for detecting adulteration and misbranding. Methods of analyses have already been established beyond dispute, and a wide and accurate knowledge of the standard qualities of food and drug substances has been compiled. In enforcing this law, however, the effect upon the health of the use of minimum quantities of antiseptics, like benzoic acid to preserve such fruit and vegetable condiments as are left open in the bottle or jar by the consumer until used up, will be controverted. Some manufacturers began in an experimental way several years ago to put up these goods without antiseptics, and several of the large firms announce that the antiseptic is no longer necessary if the product is properly sterilized and packed in a small package. Others contend that an immediate prohibition of antiseptics will destroy their business. This is one of the honest problems in the enforcement of food laws, and several of the states have found a good solution for the present in requiring plain labeling to show the name and the amount of the antiseptic used in preserving catsups, sweet pickles and similar foods. This labeling puts a competitive trade influence to work which is more effective than prohibitive statute law.

Some provisions of the law will come in conflict with previous laws enacted by congress relating to special products. Under the general law the term 'butter' would mean the unadulterated fat from milk or cream. A previous federal law, however, permits the unqualified term 'butter' to apply to milk fat which contains 'added harmless color.' Again, under the food law the term 'wine' would be defined to be the product made by the normal alcoholic fermentation of the juice of sound, ripe grapes, and 'sweet wine' would mean wine made sweet by arresting alcoholic fermentation. But a previous statute defines sweet wine to apply without added labeling to a product containing added cane or beet sugar. There should be no objection to the sale of butter containing added harmless coloring matter or wine containing added beet or cane sugar. But the interests in whose behalf these definitions were incorporated in the federal statutes wish to continue these colorations and additions without having to so inform consumers. This is wrong.

It will remain for the courts to adjust the conflict between such statutes and the general food law. The law itself contains an omnibus joker, intended by its friends to exempt certain practises of adulteration or misbranding from the other strict but fair provisions relating to deception by artificial color and to misrepresentative labels. This joker appears in the last paragraph of Section 8, in the definition of the word 'blend.' But it can be safely conjectured that when the act goes before the supreme court this paragraph will not be construed out of harmony with the other strong provisions.

A committee consisting of H. W. Wiley, chairman, from the Department of Agriculture, S. N. D. North, from the Department of Commerce and Labor, and James L. Gerry, from the Treasury Department, has been appointed by the secretaries of these departments to formulate regulations for the enforcement of the law. This committee began hearings in New York City on September 7. The various manufacturing interests will be heard, and the state departments have been asked to cooperate in suggesting regulations. At Hartford, Conn., in July, the association of food-control officials amended its constitution so as to include the food-control officials of the federal government, and an arrangement was adopted whereby there will be coalition of the food standard committee from the state analysts and the food standard committee appointed by the United States Secretary of Agriculture. This action will influence uniformity between the state laws and the national law, and bring about close cooperation between the United States Department of Agriculture and the state officials in the enforcement of food and drug control legislation.

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS.

We regret to record the deaths of Dr. H. Marshall Ward, F.R.S., professor of botany at Cambridge University; of Dr. Alexander Herzen, professor of physiology at Lausanne, and of William Buck Dwight, professor of geology at Vassar College.

Dr. A. A. Michelson, professor of physics at Chicago, has been elected a foreign member of the Accademia dei Lincei, Rome.—Dr. L. A. Bauer, of the Carnegie Institution, and Dr. John M. Clarke, state geologist of New York, have been elected corresponding members of the Göttingen Royal Academy of Sciences.

At a conference of the International Geodetic Association to be held at Budapest on September 20, the principal topics to be considered were the accurate surveying of mountain chains subject to earthquake, with a view to ascertaining whether these chains are stable or whether they rise and sink, and the taking of measures of gravity so as to throw light upon the distribution of masses in the interior of the earth and upon the rigidity of the earth's crust. The drawing up of preliminary reports on these two questions has been entrusted to M. Lallemand. director of the general survey in France, and Sir George Darwin