Popular Science Monthly/Volume 72/January 1908/The Progress of Science

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE CONVOCATION WEEK MEETING AT CHICAGO

The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the national societies affiliated with it meet this year at Chicago, beginning on Monday, December 30. Since the American Association changed the time of its meeting from summer to winter and entered into affiliation with the societies that had been in the habit of meeting during the Christmas holidays, there have been three large meetings of scientific men—the first at Washington five years ago, the second at Philadelphia three years ago and the third in New York City one year ago. The numbers of members of the association registered at these three meetings were, respectively, 975, 890 and 934. The registration, however, does not give nearly the total attendance, as many members of the association do not register, and all members of the affiliated societies are not members of the association. It is probable that the attendance of scientific men at each of these three meetings was over 1,500, and there is reason to hope that the approaching meeting at Chicago will be as large and as important from the scientific point of view as the meetings on the Atlantic seaboard.

The American Association is divided into eleven sections, covering the range of the natural and exact sciences. It includes sections for anthropology and psychology, for sociology and economic science, and for education, which last section holds its first meeting this year. The affiliated societies that meet in Chicago include, besides the American Society of Naturalists, the national societies devoted to physics, chemistry, geography, entomology, bacteriology, physiology, anatomy, botany, psychology and anthropology, and the western

PSM V72 D095 Northeast corner of the university of chicago.png
Northeast Corner of the Campus of the University of Chicago.

PSM V72 D096 The mitchell tower over the buildings of the meetings.png

The Mitchell Tower over the Group of Buildings which will be the Headquarters for the Meeting.

branches of the societies devoted to mathematics and to zoology.

The retiring president of the American Association is Dr. William H. Welch, of the Johns Hopkins University, who will make an address on the evening of the first day of the meeting. Dr. E. L. Nichols, professor of physics at Cornell University, is the president of the meeting and will reply to the addresses of welcome to be made by the president of the University of Chicago and others. Vice-presidential addresses are to be given in mathematics by Professor Kasner, of Columbia University; in chemistry, by Dr. Richardson, of New York City; in zoology, by Professor Conklin, of the University of Pennsylvania; in physics, by Professor Sabine, of Harvard University; in economics, by Mr. Conant, of New York City; in pathology, by Dr. Flexner, of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research; in economic and social science, by Mr. Warner, of Cleveland, Ohio, and in education, by Dr. Brown, U. S. Commissioner of Education. Addresses of general interest will be given before many of the affiliated societies, and there will be a large number of discussions, such as the one before the American Society of Naturalists on cooperation in biological research, in addition to a very large number of special papers to be read before the sections and societies.

The migratory meetings of the American Association enable it to bring to different centers a large proportion of the active scientific workers of the country, who should stimulate the intellectual activity of the community, while at the same time the members of the association have each year the privilege of a visit to an educational center, from which they can perhaps profit as much as from the programs of the meetings. The association has not met in Chicago for forty years. During this period science and higher education in this country have entered upon a new era, and during the latter part of it Chicago has assumed its proper place of leadership. Northwestern University opened its doors in 1855, and with its well-organized schools and four thousand students has become one of the leading universities of the country. The Field Museum of Natural History, organized at the close of the exposition of 1893 and recently endowed by Mr. Marshall Field with a bequest of $8,000,000, is one of the great museums of the country and of the world. Of special interest to the visiting members will be the University of Chicago, where most of the meetings will be held. Thanks to the vast gifts of Mr. John D. Rockefeller and the liberal cooperation of the citizens of Chicago, seconded by the organizing ability of the late President Harper.

PSM V72 D097 The walker museum of geology.png

The Walker Museum of Geology.

PSM V72 D098 The ryerson physical laboratory.png

The Ryerson Physical Laboratory.

the University of Chicago has enjoyed during the fifteen years since its foundation a development unparalleled in the history of education. Its grounds and buildings, its museums and laboratories, its educational methods and above all the great group of scholars and investigators who make the university will attract to the approaching meeting men of science from the whole country.

 

A STATUE OF JOSEPH LEIDY

Our cities are more likely to erect monuments in honor of soldiers and statesmen than to commemorate in this way their intellectual leaders. Philadelphia should therefore be congratulated on having placed by its city hall a statue of its great naturalist, Joseph Leidy. Thanks most of all to him, but also to a group of fellow students, Philadelphia maintained for a time during the second half of the last century a certain preeminence in natural history. We may hope that the dedication of this statue of Professor Leidy on October 30 indicates that the city appreciates the golden age in its history, and will seek to regain its leading position as a center for research in biological science.

Joseph Leidy was born in Philadelphia in 1823; he spent his life in that city, and died there in 1891. He graduated from the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania in 1844, and maintaining his connection with the university as assistant and demonstrator was elected professor of anatomy in 1853. His connection with the Academy of Natural Sciences was equally long and intimate, and he was also professor at Swarthmore College. His scientific work was closely connected with Philadelphia. Most of his six hundred papers were published in the proceedings of the academy and of the Philosophical Society. His paleontological papers were based mainly on the collections of the academy, and his work on recent invertebrates on material collected in and about the city.

Leidy published over two hundred papers on the extinct vertebrates of North America, leading in the work in which he was subsequently joined by Cope and Marsh of describing the remarkable fossils of the western plains. As early as 1847 he showed that this continent was the ancestral home of the horse, whose phylogeny is one of the most interesting chapters in the history of evolution, and this paper was followed by others describing the lions, camels, rhinoceros and other mammals and reptiles, which have now no immediate representatives on the continent. Perhaps equally important was Leidy's work on parasites, on
 
PSM V72 D099 Statue of joseph leidy.png
Statue of Joseph Leidy.
 

fresh-water rhizopods and on other lower forms. In 1847 he discovered the trichina in the hog, and his "Flora and Fauna within Living Animals" is a classic on this subject. His work covered an immense range. He was well informed in botany and in mineralogy, and was master of the whole field of zoology, anatomy and paleontology, both on the side of the laboratory and of nature. The complications of modern science make it unlikely that there will be another man of his type. Men must now be more specialized and smaller, and this seems to hold to a certain extent for character as well as for scientific work. Leidy was not only a great naturalist, but also a great man—simple, kind, generous and just.

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS

We regret to record the death of Professor Asaph Hall, the eminent American astronomer.

Nobel prizes have been awarded as follows: In physics to Professor A. A. Michelson, of the University of Chicago; in chemistry to Professor Eduard Buchner, of the Berlin Agricultural School; in medicine to M. Laveran, of Paris; in literature to Mr. Rudyard Kipling, and for the promotion of peace to M. Renault and M. Moneta.—The Copley medal of the Royal Society has been awarded to Professor A. A. Michelson, of the University of Chicago, and the Davy medal to Professor Edward Morley, emeritus professor of chemistry of Western Reserve University.—Professor Simon Newcomb has been elected a foreign member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, Mr. Alexander Agassiz of the Vienna Academy of Sciences, and Dr. G. W. Hill and Professor H. F. Osborn, foreign members of the Edinburgh Royal Society.

An oil portrait of Professor James Mills Peirce Perkins, professor of mathematics at Harvard University until his death in 1905, has been presented to the university by his sister.—A portrait of Professor Arthur Schuster has been presented to Manchester University. It will be remembered that Professor Schuster recently retired from the active duties of the chair of physics.

Mr. Andrew Carnegie has added two million dollars to the endowment of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Mr. A. J. Montague, of Virginia, and Mr. W. B. Parsons, of New York, have been elected trustees of the institution.