Popular Science Monthly/Volume 76/February 1910/The Progress of Science

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Professor A. A. Michelson, Head of the Department of Physics in the University of Chicago. President elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.



The meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the national scientific societies affiliated with it held at Boston during the week following Christmas was as large and important as any gathering of scientific men that has hitherto taken place in this country. The registration of members of the association was 1,140 as compared with 975 in Washington in 1902, 890 in Philadelphia in 1904, 934 in New York in 1900, 725 in Chicago in 1907 and 1,088 in Baltimore in 1908. From this voluntary registration it is difficult to estimate the attendance of scientific men. 200 chemists registered as members of the association and 558 as members of the American Chemical Society. Should a similar proportion have obtained in the other sciences, the number of scientific men would have been in the neighborhood of 3,000. It was probably not so great as this, but well above 2,000.

Although Boston is at the northeast corner of the field of scientific activity of the United States, it is still central, through the magnitude of its educational and scientific work and on account of its easy accessibility from other centers. Harvard remains our leading university and the Massachusetts Institute our leading school of technology, although the gap between them and other institutions is closing, and their supremacy may not be unchallenged when the association next

Dr. Ernest W. Brown.
Professor of Mathematics in Yale University, Vice-president for Astronomy and Mathematics.
Dr. L. A. Bauer,
Director of the Department of Research in Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution, Vice-president for Physics.

Dr. William McPherson,
Professor of Chemistry in Ohio State University, Vice-president for Chemistry.
meets in Boston. All arrangements were admirably made, though it was in some respects unfortunate that it was necessary for the sections of the association and the different societies to meet at widely separated places. The hotel selected for headquarters was somewhat small for a general meeting place, and the office of registration in the Technology Union, while a pleasant meeting place, was too isolated. R. W. Brock,
Professor of Mining, School of Mines, Kingston, Can., Vice-president for Geology.

Dr. D. P. Penhallow,
Professor of Botany, McGill University, Vice-president for Botany.
Indeed it may be said that while the meetings of the special societies were admirable, the efforts made by the general association to provide meetings of general interest and to bring together men of science working in different departments were only partly rewarded. The addresses and programs were in most cases excellent, but the scientific men in attendance were occupied in their special societies, very few members of the association not engaged in Dr. James E. Russell.
Dean of Teachers College, Columbia University, Vice-president for Education.
scientific work attended the meeting and the citizens of Boston probably find the city already saturated with lectures and addresses. At the meetings of the British Association there are usually a thousand or more local members elected for the meeting who provide large audiences. The difference is doubtless largely in the social organization of society; but it is unfortunate that the W. H. Holmes,
Head Curator of Anthropology, U. S. National Museum, Vice-president for Anthropology.
American Association is able to do so little to give science the dominant place it should have in the life of the people. All those who realize the importance of this problem should unite to do what they can to keep the larger public in touch with the advance of science.
Dr. W. G. Sumner,
Professor of Political and Social Science, Yale University, Vice-president for Economic and Social Science.
It is almost bewildering to consider that the titles of more than a thousand scientific papers were printed on the preliminary program. They were distributed among the sciences included in the association, as follows: astronomy and mathematics, 37; physics, 54; chemistry, 254; mechanical science and 17; geology and geography, 141; zoology, 124; botany, 122; anthropology and psychology, 63; social and economic science, 17; physiology

Administration Building of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

and experimental medicine, 166; education. 30. Chemistry is thus by far the best represented of the sciences, and social and economic science the weakest. The former fact is in part accounted for by the industrial applications of chemistry, but it also represents efficient organization and close affiliation between pure, and applied science. There must be nearly as many men engaged in physics and its applications, but the number of papers was only a fifth as large. Economics and sociology are not adequately represented at the meetings of the association because the national societies concerned with these subjects are meeting elsewhere.

Dr. T. C. Chamberlin, the retiring president, in his address given in Sanders Theater of Harvard University on the first day of the meeting was able to select a topic on which he is the leading expert authority and which is of broad human interest. The address was entitled "A Geologic Forecast of the Future Opportunities of our Race" and reviewed the relations of the nebular hypothesis and his own planetesimal hypothesis of the origin of the solar system and the earth to the geological history of the earth and the life on it. The newer theories give the earth a long past in which life has been supported and a long future in which it can be supported not seriously threatened by catastrophies. The highest development and the greatest longevity of the race depend mainly on moral purpose and the resources of research which now for the first time are being clearly manifested.

The president of the meeting, President David Starr Jordan, of Stanford University, eminent equally as a zoologist and for his services to education, handed on the office to Professor A. A. Michelson, of the University of Chicago, one of the world's great physicists, according to the awards of the Nobel prizes the most eminent scientific man of America. He will preside at the meeting to be held next year at Minneapolis and will give the annual address at the meeting to be held the following year at Baltimore. We are able to reproduce his portrait and the portraits of the vice-presidents of the Baltimore meetings, as it is worth while to make the acquaintance even through a picture of those who hold an office which indicates both activity in research and leadership in scientific organization.


The Administration Building of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, situated on the southeast corner of Sixteenth and P Streets. Washington, D. C, was dedicated December 13, 1909. The brief.ceremonies of the occasion were conducted in the assembly room of the building. Dr. John S. Billings, chairman of the board of trustees, presided; an account of the origin and development of the institution was given by Hon. Elihu Root, vice-chairman; and remarks in appreciation of the work already accomplished by the institution were made by Mr. Andrew Carnegie, the founder. Professor George E. Hale, director of the Solar Observatory of the institution, then gave a lecture by aid of lantern illustrations of the work already done in his department of investigation.

At the close of these exercises the trustees and guests were invited to inspect exhibits of the ten departments of investigation and of the divisions of publication and administration, installed in the rooms on the uppermost (loor of the building. During the conversazione which followed refreshments were served on the main floor of the building. Since the assembly room will seat only about two hundred people, the lecture of Professor Hale was repeated during the afternoon of the following day for the benefit especially of the members of the departments of investigation quartered in Washington and for the benefit of interested guests from government bureaus.

During the afternoons of the three following days the building and the exhibits above referred to were open to inspection by the public. About two thousand people availed themselves of these opportunities. For the benefit of friends and guests of the institution, a souvenir pamphlet giving in brief the plan and scope of the institution and some indications of its development up to date had been prepared, and a copy of this was furnished to each visitor.


We regret to record the deaths of Dr. Charles B. Dudley, chief chemist of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, and Dr. Ludwig Mond, F.R.S., the distinguished industrial chemist.

It is proposed to add to the collection of portraits of deceased members of the American Philosophical Society that of Professor Simon Newcomb. The formal presentation of the portrait is expected to take place in connection with the annual meeting in April.

Mr. William H. Holmes, chief of the Bureau of American Ethnology, on January 1 severed his official connection with the bureau and resumed his place as head curator of anthropology in the U. S. National Museum, and in this connection also became curator of the National Gallery of Art. Mr. F. W. Hodge took charge of the Bureau of American Ethnology with the title ethnologist in charge.—Dr. C. F. Chandler, since 1864 professor of chemistry in Columbia University, will retire from active service at the close of the present academic year.

The Chicago Geographical Society has awarded the Helen Culver gold medal to Commander Robert E. Peary, for distinguished services in exploration, and to Professor Thomas C. Chamberlin, of the University of Chicago, for distinguished services in geographical research.

Mrs. Russell Sage has given Yale University $G50 000 to pay for the Hillhouse property.—Mr. Henry Phipps, founder of the Phipps Institute in Philadelphia, has presented to the University of Pennsylvania $500,000, to be ; used in the campaign against tuberculosis. The management of the Phipps Institute will be placed in the hands of the university.—Mr. Otto Beit has given to the University of London £215,000 to endow fellowships for medical research.