Popular Science Monthly/Volume 74/February 1909/The Progress of Science
Dr. David Starr Jordan,
President of Leland Stanford Junior University and President-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
THE SCIENTIFIC MEETINGS AT BALTIMORE
The meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the affiliated national scientific societies held at the Johns Hopkins University during convocation week brought together more than two thousand scientific men and their programs contained the titles of more than one thousand scientific papers. Such a gathering has not occurred elsewhere or hitherto, and it is encouraging to see demonstrated in this public way the fact that this country is now taking the place in scientific research warranted by its population and its wealth. The meeting is not only an exhibition of what has been accomplished; it is also a stimulus in further efforts. The scientific men who come together from all parts of the country to present and discuss the results of the year's work return to their institutions with more knowledge and renewed zeal. It would be worth the while for each of our thousand colleges—and the smaller and more remote they are the more worth the while—to pay the expenses of delegates to a meeting of this kind. This would be no less useful or profitable than to supply books or apparatus. Dartmouth, College set this year a precedent, making an appropriation of $300 to send nine representatives to the meeting.
The arrangements by the local committee worked so smoothly and the meeting places of the groups were so separated that it was difficult to realize fully the magnitude of the meeting except by reference to the program. In it one found some seventy pages devoted to a mere list of the papers to be presented and a great array of general meetings, public lectures, dinners, smokers, etc. From this vast mass of material only a few events can be selected for mention.
At the opening meeting on the morning of December 28, the retiring president. Dr. E. L. Nichols, professor of physics at Cornell University, introduced the president of the meeting, Dr. T. C. Chamberlin, professor of geology at the University of Chicago, and the association was welcomed to Baltimore by the mayor of the city, by Dr. Ira Remsen, president of the Johns Hopkins University, who presided at the first convocation week meeting in Washington six years ago, and by Dr. William H. Welch, chairman of the local committee and professor of pathology in the Johns Hopkins University, who presided at the New York meeting two years ago.
In the evening the retiring president gave his address, which was an admirable survey of the place of science in modern civilization and an impressive plea for more research work and greater freedom in our universities. All the vice-presidential addresses before the sections of the association and the presidential addresses before the special societies maintained high scientific standards, and some of them were of broad general interest. Among the lectures may perhaps be selected for mention the addresses by Mr. G. K. Gilbert, of the U. S. Geological Survey, on earthquake forecasts, which had a sad and dramatic timeliness; by Major Squier. U.S.A., on the remarkable recent progress in navigating the air by means of dirigible balloons and aeroplanes; by Mr. Bryan, on Mt. Kilauea, whose address was beautifully illustrated and of special interest in view
Members of the Council of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
At the front are: Dr. Wm. H. Welch, Chairman of the Local Committee and Past President of the Association; Dr. L. O. Howard, Permanent Secretary; Professor Charles E. Bessey, retiring Vice President for the Section of Botany; President R. S. Woodward, Treasurer and Past President; and Professor T. C. Chamberlin, President for the Baltimore meeting.
of the probable meeting of the association in Honolulu eighteen months hence; by Professor Wilson, of Columbia University, describing the classic researches made by him and others on the determination and heredity of sex; by Dr. Brown, U. S. Commissioner of Education, who spoke with authority on world standards of education; by Professor Penck, of Berlin, eminent as a geologist and geographer, who lectured on man, climate and soil, and by Professor Poulton, of Oxford, the leading authority on natural selection, whose subject was mimicry in the butterflies of North America.
In addition to the great number of discussions and special sessions, two memorial meetings were of striking significance. The former students and colleagues of William Keith Brooks, professor at the Johns Hopkins University from its establishment in 1876 to his death, two months ago, met to do honor to his memory. No fewer than sixty joined in a dinner on the last day of the old year, and their numbers and standing not less than their words bore witness to the great influence exerted by Brooks on the development of the biological sciences throughout the country. The last day of the meeting and the first day of the new year was devoted to a Darwin memorial, celebrating the hundredth anniversary of his birth, which occurs on February 12, and the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the origin of species. Professor Poulton, who came from England to take part, gave a vivid account of Darwin's work and influence. He was followed by a number of leading American investigators of problems of organic evolution whose papers gave an excellent survey of present conditions, showing both the dependence of modern biological science on Darwin's work and the new problems which have now come to the front.
Dr. David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford University, eminent as an ichthyologist and as a student of a wide range of evolutionary problems and equally for his services to education and civilization, was elected president for the meeting to be held next year in Boston. The vice-presidents of the Baltimore meeting were worthily succeeded by a group of men who represent the best scientific work now being done in this country. They are: Mathematics and Astronomy—Professor Ernest W. Brown, Yale University. Physics—Dr. L. A. Bauer, Carnegie Institution, Washington, D. C. Chemistry—Professor William McPherson, son, Ohio State University. Mechanical Science and Engineering—Dr. J. F. Hayford. U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. Geology and Geography—Dr. R. W. Brock, director of the Canadian Geological Survey. Zoology—Professor William E. Ritter, University of California. Botany—Professor D. P. Penhallow. McGill University. Anthropology and Psychology—Dr. William H. Holmes, Bureau of American Ethnology. Social and Economic Science—President Carroll D. Wright. Clark College. Physiology and Experimental Medicine—Professor Charles S. Minot, Harvard Medical School. Education—Dr. J. E. Russell, dean of Teachers College, Columbia University.
THE REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE
Secretary Wilson's annual report to the president is a striking document, almost bewildering in the range and magnitude of the subjects of which it treats. It is not easy to think in billions of dollars and realize what it means to say that the value of our farm products in 1908 was $7,770,000,000. This is about three hundred million dollars above the value in 1907 and three billion dollars above the value in 1899. The increase is, however, in part due to higher prices, as well as to larger production, and in so far as all prices have risen, even the farmers do not profit. But their wealth has increased greatly in recent years. The six million farms of the country are valued with their buildings and stock at twenty-eight billion dollars. While individual bank deposits have increased 12 per cent, in New York State, they have increased 28.5 per cent, in Iowa and 334 per cent, in Kansas. The farms-of Kansas, mortgaged to the east twelve years ago, now send their profits to be invested in New York. The exports of agricultural products last year were valued at over one billion dollars, representing a great increase in the wealth of the country, though it is to be feared that it in part means the sale of the fertility of the soil. Indian corn is valued at about one third of all farm crops; wheat, hay and cotton at more than one third and the smaller crops at nearly one third. The annual value of animal products is approximating three billion dollars.
The work of the Department of Agriculture is commensurate with this vast production of the farms. When secretary Wilson assumed charge eleven years ago, there were less than 2,500 persons employed. There are now more than 10,000, and of these more than 2,600 may be classified as scientific men. The bureau that has had the most remarkable growth is the Forest Service, which has increased from 14 persons to 3,753. It administers an area of national forests amounting to 168,000,000 acres, which paid laf?t year into the national treasury $1,800,003 in receipts. The income of the agricultural colleges was five million dollars in 1897 and fifteen million dollars in 1908. There was one agricultural high school in the former year and no normal school taught agriculture. There are now fifty-five agricultural high schools and one hundred and fifteen normal schools at which agriculture is taught. The Department of Agriculture distributed last year nearly seventeen million publications. The more these are read the better it is, not only for the farmers of the country, but for all the people.
We record with regret the deaths of George Washington Hough, professor of astronomy at Northwestern University and director of the Dearborn Observatory, and of Thomas Gray, professor of engineering at the Rose Polytechnic Institute.
Presiding officers of societies meeting at Baltimore were elected as follows: The American Society of Naturalists, Professor T. H. Morgan, of Columbia University; The Geological Society of America, Mr. G. K. Gilbert, of the U. S. Geological Survey, for the second time, he having held this office in 1892; The American Chemical Society, Dr. W. R. Whitney, director of the Research Laboratories of the General Electric Company, at Schenectady The American Zoological Society, Professor Herbert E. Jennings, of the Johns Hopkins University; The American Anthropological Association, Dr. W. H. Holmes, chief of the Bureau of American Ethnology; The American Psychological Association, Professor Charles H. Judd, professor of psychology at Yale University and director-elect of the School of Education in the University of Chicago; The American Philosophical Association, Professor J. G. Hibben, of Princeton University.
Professor T. C. Chamberlin, after presiding at the Baltimore meeting of the American Association, left for San Francisco on his way to China, where he will study the geology of the country with special reference to its influence on social and educational conditions, as a member of a commission sent by the University of Chicago.