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

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Alexander Agassiz.
 
THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE DEATH OF ALEXANDER AGASSIZ

In the death of Alexander Agassiz, America loses its foremost naturalist, as a few months ago in the death of Simon Newcomb it lost its most eminent representative of the exact sciences. Both were born in the year 1835. and in a century preeminent for science both gave distinction to this country when it was relatively backward in scientific productivity. Each maintained his intellectual leadership and continued his researches and publications to the very end of a long life. America is no longer behind the nations of Europe in the number of its scientific workers, but among them all are none to take the places left vacant by Agassiz and Newcomb.

Alexander Agassiz was endowed at birth with the heritage of his great father, Louis Agassiz, whose work at Harvard he carried forward. Born in Switzerland, he came to the United States in 1849 at the age of fourteen and graduated from Harvard College in 1855, continuing graduate studies in mining and chemistry in the Lawrence Scientific School. In 1859 he went to California as an assistant on the coast survey and in the following year became assistant in the museum founded by Louis Agassiz, during whose absence in Brazil he was in charge. From 1860 to 1869 he was engaged in mining in the Lake Superior region and became superintendent of the Calumet and Hecla. copper mines of which he was president at the time of his death. He thus acquired abundant wealth, and was able to give more than half a million dollars to the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology and to conduct as he wished his oceanographical expeditions.

In 1869 Mr. Agassiz visited European museums and on his return in 1870 renewed his duties at the Harvard Museum, of which he became curator and director on the death of Louis Agassiz in 1873. He was for a series of years one of the seven fellows who form the corporation of Harvard College, and was on two occasions elected an overseer. In 1875 he visited the western coast of South America and subsequently went to England to assist with the reports of the Challenger expedition, writing the monograph on the Echini. Previously and subsequently to the end of his life, he made a great number of valuable scientific contributions to marine zoology, the embryology of fishes and coral reefs. In awarding to him its Victoria re; search medal, the report of the Royal I Geographical Society said "he has done more for oceanographical research than any other single individual" and summed up his work by noting that for thirty years he had carried out personally oceanographical expeditions over most of the oceans of the world. In 1877-80 he explored the Florida Straits and Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Coast and the Caribbean Sea. In 1880 he studied the surface fauna of the Gulf Stream; in 1892-4 he investigated the Sandwich Islands, studying recent and extinct reefs. In 1891 he conducted three cruises off the West Coast of Central America, and in 1895-6 he studied the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and in 1897-8 the Fiji Islands. In 1899-1900 he carried out a cruise from San Francisco via the Coral Island groups to Japan. In 1904-5 he investigated the eastern tropical Pacific. In the Indian Ocean in 1901-2 he devoted himself to the Maldive Islands. In 1874-5 he
 
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Charles Reid Barnes.
 

investigated Lake Titicaca. Mr. Agassiz has done this entirely at his own expense. The results have been published by him through the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College, in thirty volumes of memoirs and fifty-three volumes of bulletins, mostly containing the results of his own various expeditions and of the work of the specialists who examined his collections. Besides the numerous publications through the Harvard Museum, in 1888 Mr. Agassiz published in two volumes the narrative of his three cruises in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and along the Atlantic Coast of the United States, with charts and illustrations.

Mr. Agassiz had been president of the National Academy of Sciences, and was a foreign member of the leading academies of the world. He was not only the author of important contributions to science, but was also a great man, possessed of complete courage and frankness and a dominant will, which gave him leadership throughout the broad and rich experiences of his long life. As he was happy in his birth and in his life, it may be said that he was not ill-starred in his death, for he died with faculties undimmed, suddenly, on the sea, which he loved so well and had explored so persistently.

 

CHARLES REID BARNES

The death of Dr. Charles Reid Barnes, professor of plant physiology at the University of Chicago, as the result of a fall, is a serious loss to botany. He was born at Madison, Ind., in 1858 and was educated at Hanover College and Harvard University. After occupying successively the chairs of natural history and of botany and geology at Purdue University, he was called to the chair of botany at the University of Wisconsin in 1887, where he remained until he took up his final work at Chicago in 1898. During all of these years he was associated with Professor Coulter in the editorship of the Botanical Gazette. Professor Barnes had served as vice-president of the botanical section of the American Association and as president of the Botanical Society of America. Professor Barnes's best known earlier publications dealt with the taxonomy of mosses. Just before his death he completed the final proof-reading of the physiological part of a general textbook of botany that is expected soon to appear from the Hull Botanical Laboratory. Within the past few years Professor Barnes had become greatly interested in morphological problems among the bryophytes, two papers having been already published in conjunction with Dr. Land and several others being partly ready.

 

THE TROUBLES AT PRINCETON

The secret history of almost any American university is not less complicated than recent events at Princeton, but it is certainly unusual for such family quarrels to be so completely exploited before a public which can scarcely be expected to understand them. It is, however, probably not a bad thing for a university to conduct its affairs in the open and for large numbers to become interested in them, even though the principles involved may not be so vital as they appear to those immediately concerned. Probably the circumstance of greatest general interest at Princeton is the control exercised by the alumni. This is a factor likely to become increasingly important in the history of our universities, and it is not without its dangers, for the alumni bear gifts and are more likely to be concerned with athletics and fraternities than with scholarship.

The outlines of the Princeton story are now common property. Dean West has long urged with enthusiasm a graduate college on the lines of the Oxford colleges and President Wilson approved the plan. Then came President Wilson's move against the clubs—fraternities are forbidden at Princeton—and in favor of more democratic "quads," which divided the faculty and trustees and awakened the opposition
 
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Lieutenant Ernest Shackleton,
the eminent arctic explorer, who is at present lecturing in the United States.
 

of the rich alumni. The Swan bequest of $300,000 for a graduate college then became available, and there was difference of opinion as to its site. Mr. W. C. Proctor at this stage offered to give $500,000 for the graduate college as planned by Dean West and on condition that an equal sum should be subscribed by others. There was again difference of opinion as to the site and the control of the college, and while the president and a committee of the trustees were trying to come to an agreement with Mr. Proctor, he withdrew his gift.

The question of site is somewhat trivial except in so far as it has become identified with policies. Whether the residence hall should be in the midst of the Princeton campus or on its outskirts can not be a matter of serious consequence. The fact is that the president of the university and some of the trustees were unwilling to place the dean of the graduate school in as complete control of its development as the acceptance of Mr. Proctor's gift might have implied. The real trouble is one of men rather than of measures.

It is a curious circumstance that President Wilson and Dean West are in pretty close agreement in favor of a financial democracy and of an intellectual aristocracy or snobbishness, as one may please to call it. When Dean West favors a residential college with oak-panelled dining hall in which the students shall dine in evening dress, he does so because he wishes to give the young men without money a chance to live in the environment which he regards as proper to the scholar and the gentleman. The ideal of such a college was well put in an address made some years ago. We read of

a place removed—calm Science seated there, recluse, ascetic, like a nun. not knowing that the world passes, not caring, if the truth but come in answer to her prayer; and Literature, walking within her open doors, in quiet chambers, with men of olden time, storied walls about her. and calm voices infinitely sweet; here "magic casements, opening on the loam of perilous seas, in fairy lands forlorn," to which you may withdraw and use your youth for pleasure.

Those who have followed the recent Princeton controversy may be surprised i to learn that this not a quotation from Dean West, but from the concluding part of Dr. Wilson's address on the occasion of the Princeton sesquicentennial celebration. It might be that President Wilson had learned new tilings in the meanwhile, but at the meeting of the Association of American Universities a couple of months ago, he presented a paper urging the old ideas of amateurism and dilletantism in college studies. He writes:

All specialism—and tnis includes professional training—is clearly individualistic in its object; that is, the object of professional training is the private object of the person who is seeking that training. . . . The minute professionalism enters learning, it ceases to wear the broad and genial face of learning. It has become a commodity; it has become something that a man wishes to exchange for means of support. It has become something that a man wishes to use in order to get the better of his fellow-men; to enhance his fortunes; to do all the things that center in and upon himself; and it is professionalism that spoils the game, the game of life, the game of humanity, the game of cooperation in social undertaking, the whole handsome game that we are seeking to throw light upon by the processes of education.

It is a remarkable and interesting fact that Princeton is becoming a great university and a great scientific center almost in spite of those in control. The large gifts made to the university have found their way to build fine laboratories and to secure scientific men of the first rank. The preceptors intended for less modern purposes brought to Princeton a large group of younger men from various institutions who have given it new life. The efforts for a graduate residential college, which in Dean West's words should "show that God is the end of all our knowing and Christ is the Master of the Schools," or, in President Wilson's phrase, should be "quick to look toward heaven for the confirmation of its hope," will lead to a true graduate school for the training of professional scholars and the advancement of knowledge.

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS

We regret to record the deaths of Professor Robert Parr Whitfield, curator of geology of the American Museum of Natural History; Dr. Borden Parker Bowne, professor of philosophy at Boston University, and of Dr. Eduard Pflüger, the eminent German physiologist.

Dr. T. Muir, F.R.S., has been elected president of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science for the meeting in Cape Town, the date of which is not yet set.—Dr. George W. Hill, of Nyack, N. Y., and Professor E. B. Wilson, of Columbia University, have been elected foreign members of the Brussels Academy of Sciences.—A testimonial dinner to Dr. Charles Frederick Chandler was given at the Waldorf-Astoria on April 2, to permit his former students and associates to express, before his retirement, their appreciation of his forty-six years of service to Columbia University, and his lifetime of devotion to the cause of education and science. It was announced that a lectureship in honor of Dr. Chandler would be endowed by his former students and that the chemical museum of the university would be named in his honor.

The Oceanographical Museum at Monaco, established by the Prince of Monaco, was opened on March 29. The different European governments and the principal scientific societies were represented at the ceremony.—A Brooklyn Botanic Garden is now being established by the City of Greater New York in cooperation with the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. Between twenty-five and thirty acres of land, south of the museum building of the institute in Brooklyn, have been set apart for the purposes of the garden. A laboratory building for purposes of investigation and instruction, together with a range of experimental and public greenhouses, will be constructed during the coming summer and autumn. For this purpose the City of New York has appropriated $100,000 and friends of the garden in Brooklyn have subscribed $50,000 as an endowment. Dr. C. Stuart Gager, professor of botany in the University of Missouri, has been appointed director.