Popular Science Monthly/Volume 70/February 1907/The Progress of Science

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE CONVOCATION WEEK MEETINGS

The meetings of the American Association for the Advancement, of Science and of the twenty-one national scientific societies affiliated with it, held in New York City from December 26 to January 2, exhibited convincingly the great progress that has taken place in this country in scientific research and in scientific organization. Twenty years ago Brown Goode, who was better informed than any other in regard to the history of science, in America, estimated that our scientific men numbered about five hundred. There were about 2.500 scientific men at the New York meeting and about 800 scientific papers were presented before the sections of the association and the special societies. The growth of our scientific institutions and the increase in the number of our scientific men appear to be in a geometric ratio. There are now at least 5,000 scientific men in the United States, and it is by no means impossible that twenty years hence the number will be 50,000. And this is but as it should be. There are 100,000 physicians and 500,000 teachers in the country, and one half of the physicians and one tenth of the teachers might to advantage engage in scientific research. The nation can certainly afford to devote one tenth of its resources and one tenth of its people to ideal ends, and in the case of science the conditions are favorable also on the economic side, for the more we give to science the-more we receive from it.

It seems almost impossible to select from the hundreds of scientific addresses, papers and discussions any for special mention. Some people are disappointed because no great discovery is announced at such a meeting. As a

PSM V70 D187 Edward Kasner.jpg
PSM V70 D187 Clifford Richardson.jpg
Edward Kasner, Professor of Mathematics in Columbia University, Vice-president for the Section of Mathematics and Astronomy. Clifford Richardson, Director of the New York Testing Laboratories, Vice-president for the Section of Chemistry.
 
PSM V70 D188 Some members of the council of the aaas.jpg
 
Jessie Tarbox Beals, photographer
Weld. Fisher. Lane. Hobbs. McNair. Ward.
Benjamin. Howard. R.S. Woodward. Summers Conklin Osborn.
Trelease. McGee. Rice. C. M. Woodward. Welch. Cattell. Hazen. MacDougal. Hayford.
Some members of the Council of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

PSM V70 D189 Alfred C Lane.jpg

Alfred C. Lane, State Geologist of Michigan, Vice-president for the Section of Geology and Geography.

matter of fact, the great discoveries in I the history of science are but few, and it is as a rule only in retrospect that they are seen in their true perspective. The doctrine of the origin of species by natural selection is probably one of the two great scientific advances of the past century, and it was clearly and dramatically announced at a certain meeting of the Linnean Society. Yet no one would expect the newspapers the next morning to devote their front pages to a report of the meeting. The work of the scientific men of the country during the year was more important for the people than the proceedings of its congress and legislatures, and this work was in large measure reported at the New York meeting. Almost any one of the researches presented might be the subject of an interesting article; abstracts of all of them, so brief as to be unintelligible, would fill a volume of the Monthly.

The first article of the constitution of the American Association reads as follows: "The objects of the Association are, by periodical and migratory meetings, to promote intercourse between those who are cultivating science in different parts of America, to give a stronger and more general impulse and more systematic direction to scientific research, and to procure for the labors of scientific men increased facilities and a wider usefulness."

PSM V70 D189 Edwin G Conklin.jpg

Edwin G. Conklin, Professor of Zoology in the University of Pennsylvania, Vice-president for the Section of Zoology.

Certainly a meeting such as that of the present year does much to advance these objects. The council of the association, to which the affiliated societies now elect delegates, is a body truly representative of scientific research and of scientific men. Its functions in the future will probably become more important than hitherto, for it is not only able to conduct the business of the association, but to exert a predominant influence on the conditions which affect scientific progress.

The retiring president of the Association, Professor Calvin M. Woodward, known both as an engineer and for his

 
PSM V70 D190 Dinner of the american society of naturalists.jpg
6 1 2 3 4 5
Dinner of the American Society of Naturalists.

1. Dr. Charles B. Davenport, President of the Society. 2. Professor J. Playfair McMurrich, president-elect. 3. Professor D. P. Penhallow, vice-president. 4. Professor E. L. Thordike, secretary. 5. Dr. William H. Welch, president of the American Association. 6. Dr. L. O. Howard, secretary of the Association.

PSM V70 D191 Worcester Reed Warner.pngW. R. Warner, President of the Warner and Swasey Company, Vice-president of the Section for Mechanical Science and Engineering. leadership in introducing manual training in the schools, chose as the subject of his address 'The Science of Education,' and one of the most important transactions of the association was the establishment of a section of education. A similar section of the British Association, established several years ago, has proved to be of much value, and there is reason to believe that this section, which begins auspiciously with Dr. Elmer E. Brown, U. S. commissioner of education, as chairman, PSM V70 D191 Simon Flexner.pngSimon Flexner, Director of the Laboratoires of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, Vice-president for the Section of Physiology and Experimental Medicine. will accomplish much for the advancement of education as a science, for the teaching of science in the schools and colleges and for the improvement of educational administration in our schools, colleges and universities.

The section last established was one for physiology and experimental medicine, which at the present meeting PSM V70 D191 Charles A Conant.pngCharles A. Conant, Treasurer of the Morton Trust Company, Vice president for the Section for Social and Economic Science. cooperated with the national societies devoted to physiology, anatomy, bacteriology and psychology, and held a special session for the discussion of 'Protozoa as Factors in the Diseases of Animals and Plants.' It is also noteworthy that for the first time, at least in recent years, a representative of the medical sciences was president of the association, thus giving recognition to the fact that medicine has now taken its place among the sciences. To this result perhaps no one in this country has contributed so much as Dr. W. H. Welch, of the Johns Hopkins University, who presided over the New York meeting. He is succeeded in the presidency by Dr. E. L. Nichols, of Cornell University, who is eminent for his contributions to experimental physics and has at the same time exerted a great influence on educational development and scientific organization. The standard set by the presidency of the association is well maintained by the vice-presidents for the sections, who are as follows: Mathematics and Astronomy. Professor E. 0. Lovett, Princeton University; Physics, Professor Dayton C. Miller, Case School of Applied Science; Chemistry, Professor H. P. Talbot, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Mechanical Science and Engineering, Professor Olin H. Landreth, Union College; Geology and Geography, Professor J. P. Iddings, University of Chicago; Zoology, Professor E. B. Wilson, Columbia University; Botany, Professor C. E. Bessey, University of Nebraska; Anthropology, Professor Franz Boas, Columbia University; Economics and Social Science, Dr. John Franklin Crowell, New York City; Physiology and Experimental Medicine, Dr. Ludvig Hektoen, University of Chicago; Education, Dr. Elmer E. Brown, U. S. Commissioner of Education. The meeting next year will be held at Chicago, where, as throughout Illinois and the adjacent states, science has in recent years begun to rival the earlier development on the Atlantic seaboard.

 

THE CARNEGIE FOUNDATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF TEACHING

The first report of the president to the trustees of the Carnegie Foundation gives Mr. Carnegie's original letter, the certificate of incorporation in New York, the act of incorporation by the congress, the by-laws of the corporation, the report of the treasurer, and the rules for granting retiring allowances, as well as an account of what has been accomplished and a discussion of policy by President Pritchett. As has already been announced, the pensions are of two kinds, one given at or after the age of sixty-five to men who have been professors for fifteen years, and one given after twenty-five years of service. The pensions are relatively larger for those having small salaries, being arranged on a sliding scale of from nine tenths to one half the salary. The foundation may give a pension to the widow of a professor entitled to a retiring allowance, and has given pensions to disabled professors, though there is no clear provision covering the latter case.

There are certain accepted institutions, at present fifty-two in number, whose professors receive the pensions automatically on application from the institution, and the foundation may award pensions to professors of other institutions. On October 1, there had been awarded forty-five allowances to professors in accepted institutions, thirty-five allowances to individual professors and eight allowances to widows. The average allowance to the first class is $1,552; to the second $1,302, and to the third $833. Denominational institutions are excluded by the act of incorporation; the inclusion of institutions supported by the state is under advisement.

The report gives the accompanying summary of the salaries of the professors in American colleges. There is also included a history of the pensions of professors and a discussion of standards of admission to universities and colleges.

Mr. Carnegie's great benefaction will aid our universities, colleges and technical schools, and will thus of course be welcomed by their professors. Whether it will, as President Butler of Columbia University says in his annual report, 'lift one of the heaviest

Class of Institutions. No. of Institu-
tions.
Total No. Pro-
fessors.
Total Amount
Salaries.
Average
No. in
Faculty.
Average
Pay-roll in
Institution.
Average
Pay of a
Professor.
Denominational 218 2,802 $3,305,930 13 $15,165 $1,180
State Institutions 58 1,461 2,617,210 25 45,120 1,787
Non-Denominational 51 1,944 3,708,220 38 72,710 1,907
327 6,207 $9,631,360

burdens that they have had to bear' 'from the shoulders of hundreds of hard-working and ill-compensated men' is more problematical. These hardworking and ill-compensated professors are not so badly off after all, and if their salaries have not increased in proportion to the greater cost and higher standards of living, they should themselves see to it that justice is done. Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell and other universities already had pension systems as a matter of contract with their professors, and if it is intended that Mr. Carnegie's foundation shall be of benefit to the professors, their salaries should be increased by the amount of income set free. It is quite possible that professors will in the end be paid just so much the less, because pensions have been assured to them. The individual professor would probably have gained more and certain institutions would have gained less if the trustees had been professors instead of presidents.

President Pritchett says in his report: "It is evident to the trustees that, to better the profession of the teacher and to attract into it increasing numbers of strong men, it is necessary that the retiring allowance should come as a matter of right, not as a charity. No ambitious and independent professor wishes to find himself in the position of accepting a charity or a favor, and the retiring allowance system simply as a charity has little to commend it." But unfortunately the pensions of widows and for disablement are at present on a charity basis. They should either be abandoned, or made so that they will accrue as a matter of contract. In the German universities a professor receives his salary for life. He may cease lecturing if disabled by illness or old age, but he may continue to lecture as long as he sees fit to such students as care to hear him. In case of death a pension is provided for his widow and for each child. This is more satisfactory than the system proposed by the Carnegie Foundation. However, it might not be possible to adjust it to the American college. Certainly all professors and all scientific men should be sincerely grateful to Mr. Carnegie. But it is a misfortune that he did not make professors trustees of the Carnegie Foundation and scientific men trustees of the Carnegie Institution.

 
THE SAND-DUNES OF THE DESERT OF ISLAY

It is a familiar fact that sand-dunes are carried along by the winds. Much labor and expense have been incurred in many localities, especially near the sea, to prevent the damage which their movement inflicts on the neighboring country. These sand-hills are found in great numbers in nearly all the desert regions of the earth, and their forms and motions have been described by different writers. A recent volume of the Annals of the Harvard Observatory contains a somewhat elaborate discussion of the crescent-shaped sand dunes of the Desert of Islay in Peru, by Professor S. I. Bailey, who observed them during eight years.

The coast region of Peru is desert throughout its whole extent. In some places it is made up of barren hills, in others, of arid plains. The Pampa, or Desert of Islay, is bounded by the Andes, the Pacific, and the rivers Vitor and Tambo. Its length and breadth are about equal, perhaps fifty miles in extent. The mean elevation of the pampa is about four thousand feet, increasing toward the north. It is a great plain with occasional low hills, almost devoid of animal and vegetable life, except among the low hills facing the sea. It appears to have been formerly the bed of the ocean. The surface is composed of sand, sprinkled over with stones and small boulders, and ail occasional outcrop of rock. Scattered over the pampa, especially in its northern portion, are hundreds of crescent-shaped sand-dunes. Their form is always the same, approximately that of the new moon, unless some unusual object is encountered by the dunes in their journey across the desert.

PSM V70 D194 Sand dune on the desert of islay.png

A Sand-dune on the Desert of Islay.

Their motion seems to be always toward the north or northwest, in the same direction as that of the prevailing south and southeast wind. The convex surface is directed toward the wind, and the cusps lie in the direction of motion. Their size varies between rather wide limits. They are in general from one hundred to two hundred feet broad, and from ten to twenty feet high. They are composed entirely of a fine gray sand, and are moved along by the wind so perfectly that not only is the crescent form preserved, but none of the sand is left behind to mark the passage. A casual glance at the surface of the pampa detects little if any of the sand which enters into the composition of the 1 dunes. The same variety of sand is found, however, by digging beneath the surface. It appears that all the available surface sand has already been collected by the wind into these symmetrical heaps, and that, unless the surface is disturbed by some convulsion of nature, the dunes may all finally disappear among the hills on the north of the desert. This theory seems to be confirmed by the abundance of dunes in the northern part of the desert, and their absence from the southern part. The motion is always to the north but varies somewhat with the season and the strength of the wind. Tables and curves are given in the discussion, showing the relations between the rate of motion and the wind. Only the comparatively strong winds are able to move the sand. During the year 1900 the wind was recorded stronger than ten miles per hour 1,477 times, of which the wind was southerly 1,414 times, and in all other directions only 63 times. The strongest winds are always southerly, reaching at times 20 miles per hour. Northerly winds are not strong and persistent enough to break up the symmetrical form of the dunes. The following brief table gives the mean monthly motion of the dunes:

Month. Movement.
Feet per
Month.
Movement.
Inches per
Day.
January 5.6 2.2
February 7.1 3.0
March 6.0 2.3
April 3.4 1.3
May 2.7 1.1
June 3.2 1.3
July 3.0 1.2
August 3.0 1.5
September 5.9 2.4
October 6.6 2.5
November 8.0 3.2
December 5.9 2.3

The crescent shape is well preserved as the dune advances, except where the force or direction of the wind is affected by some adjacent object. The sand dunes are formed in different parts of the desert, and move across it till they reach the hills on the northern border. These low hills are the burial places of the dunes. As individuals they go to pieces as soon as they touch these irregular formations, and become merely confused heaps of sand. Assuming the average journey, which they travel, to be twenty-five miles, since the mean yearly motion is about sixty-one feet, the life of a sand-dune may be estimated at more than 2,000 years. Since the desert is somewhat broken in places by ravines-and low hills, it is probable that but few of them make the full journey without at some time losing their identity.

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS

The national scientific societies which met in New York City during convocation week elected presiding officers as follows: The American Society of Naturalists, Professor J. Playfair McMurrich, University of Michigan; The Astronomical and Astrophysical Society of America, Professor E. 0. Pickering, Harvard College Observatory; The American Mathematical Society, Professor H. S. White, Vassar College; The American Physical Society, Professor E. L. Nichols, Cornell University; The American Chemical Society, Professor T. Marston Bogert, Columbia University; The Association of American Geographers, Professor Angelo Heilprin, Yale University; The American Physiological Society, Professor W. H. Howell, The Johns Hopkins University; The Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists, Professor Bashford Dean, Columbia University, The American Entomological Society, Professor J. H. Comstock, Cornell University; The American Botanical Society, Professor George F. Atkinson, Cornell University; The American Psychological Association, Dr. Henry Rutgers Marshall. New York City; The American Philosophical Association, Professor H. N. Gardiner, Smith College; The American Anthropological Society, Professor Franz Boas, Columbia University.

Dr. William H. Welch, Dr. Henry S. Pritchett and the Hon. William H. Taft have been elected trustees of the Carnegie Institution.

The Brazilian government proposes to establish a national geological survey under the direction of Dr. O. A. Derby, who was for many years geologist of the state of S. Paulo. Dr. Derby went to Brazil in 1875, as a member of the extinct commissão geologica, of which Professor C. F. Hartt was the chief. He has lived in Brazil ever since, and is the leading authority on Brazilian geology.—Professor J. A. Bownocker, of the State University, has been appointed state geologist of Ohio to succeed Professor Edward Orton, Jr., resigned.—The lords commissioners of the admirality have appointed Syndey S. Hough, Esq., F.R.S., chief assistant to the astronomer at the observatory, Cape of Good Hope, to be astronomer at that observatory on the retirement of Sir David Gill, K.C.B.

Dr. William A. Noyes, head of the department of chemistry in the Bureau of Standards, and secretary and editor of the American Chemical Society, has been elected professor of chemistry in the University of Illinois.—Professor Ernest Rutherford, Macdonald professor of physics in McGill University, has been appointed to succeed Professor Schuster as Langworthy professor and director of the physical laboratories at the University of Manchester.—Dr. William Duane, professor of physics in the University of Colorado, at Boulder, has resigned to accept a position in the Curie Radium Laboratory at Paris. The fund providing for Dr. Duane's work is the gift of Mr. Andrew Carnegie.

At the annual banquet of the National Geographic Society the first award of its gold medal was made to Commander Peary.—Professor T. W. Richards has been elected an honorary member of the Royal Institution of Great Britain.—Mr. Alexander Agassiz has chartered the steam yacht Virginia for a cruise to the West Indies. The yacht will sail from New York the first week in February to be absent for three months.

Mr. John D. Rockefeller has given the University of Chicago $2,700,000 for its permanent endowment, and $217,000 for current expenses and special purposes. It is further reported that Mr. Rockefeller will give $3,000,000 for a pension at the University of Chicago, and $2,000,000 for the proposed Louisville University.