Popular Science Monthly/Volume 80/April 1912/The Progress of Science

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The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research.


The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research has issued an interesting brochure giving an account of its history, organization and equipment. The institution was incorporated in 1901 with a board of directors consisting of seven distinguished pathologists, at which time Mr. John D. Rockefeller pledged a sum of $200,000 to be given in ten annual installments. At the end of the first year, he promised an additional sum of a million dollars for a building and support, and in that year the Schermerhorn estate on the East River, between 64th and 67th Streets, was purchased. Buildings were erected costing about $300,000, the formal opening taking place on May 11, 1906. In the following year Mr, Rockefeller gave an endowment of over two million, six hundred thousand dollars, and in 1908 arrangements were made for the construction of a hospital which cost $900,000. Other gifts followed from Mr. Rockefeller and the endowment fund now amounts to over $7,000,000.

At first the funds of the institute were used only for grants to investigators, but in 1902 Dr. Simon Flexner, then professor in the Johns Hopkins University, was elected director, and in 1904 research was begun by the institute. The original staff included, in addition to Dr. Flexner, Drs. S. J. Meltzer, E. L. Opie, H. Noguchi, P. A. Levene and J. Auer. Dr. Opie has since removed to St. Louis, and the scientific staff has been strengthened by the addition of Drs. Jacques Loeb, Alexis Carrel, Rufus Cole and other distinguished investigators. The original directors of the institute agreed in 1908 to become themselves a board of scientific directors, and to transfer to a board of trustees the management of the property. Both boards appear to form the corporation, their relations being somewhat unusual. The present board of trustees was appointed by the board of scientific directors, but they will in future be selected by the trustees. The arrangement, however, gives much more influence to scientific men than the organization of our universities, as the board of scientific directors retains control of the scientific work supported by the annual income, and one third of the trustees holding the property are men of science who are also members of the board of scientific directors.

The laboratory building is a fireproof structure of light gray brick and limestone, commanding a beautiful view of the East River and the country beyond. There are laboratories of pathology, bacteriology, chemistry, physiology, pharmacology, experimental medicine and experimental surgery, each of which is under the charge of a member or associate of the institute with a staff of assistants. The hospital includes a main building and an isolation pavilion for contagious diseases. Its capacity is about seventy beds and its work is confined to selected cases bearing on a limited number of diseases, those first selected having been acute lobar pneumonia, infantile paralysis, syphilis and certain types of cardiac disease. No charge is made for persons treated in the hospital, and all discoveries and inventions made by those working in the institution become its property to be placed freely at the service of the public.

The institution publishes The Journal of Experimental Medicine, a series of monographs and a series of studies. In its first ten years the institute has produced a large number of researches of great importance both for pure science and for applied medicine. Some of these have been described in this journal by the director. Dr. Flexner,
Routes followed by Otto Nordenskjöld, 1902-1903; R. F. Scott, 1902-1904; W. S. Bruce, 1903-1904.

and we hope that it may be possible to publish here other articles containing accounts of work that in importance is not exceeded by that being accomplished in any science in any part of the world.


The attainment of. the South Pole is of dramatic and sporting interest to every one, and such expeditions are likely to yield scientific results of value. There is a dramatic appeal in the fact that the most remote and inaccessible ends of the earth have at least been brought within reach, in the north by Commander Peary and now in the south by Captain Amundsen. These quests have to a certain extent been international games of skill and endurance. In the present instance this aspect has been emphasized by the fact that Captain Amundsen secretly departed from his planned expedition to the Arctic to engage in the race with Captain Scott. We may hope that both reached the goal. It is not a matter of consequence whether it was first attained by a descendant of the vikings or by the people that sent Cook, Weddell, Ross, Scott and Shackleton to press each further than his predecessor to the south. The Monroe doctrine presumably does not include in its scope the Antarctic continent; but it seems unfortunate that we have done less than our share to explore the land immediately south of us.

It probably does not violate the copyright so carefully guarded by the New York Times on behalf of Captain
Route followed by E. H. Shackleton, 1908-1909.

Amundsen to state that the explorer reached the pole on December 14, and remained there for three days. The sun was bright, and observations were carefully made with the sextant and artificial horizon. The great snow plane elevated more than 10,000 feet above the sea was named King Haakon Plateau, though it may be that priority should be given to the name of King Edward VII. Land, as the plateau extends to the point within ninety-seven miles of the pole reached by Lieutenant Shackleton on January 9, 1909. The Fram, made famous by Dr. Nansen 's expeditions, reached the Bay of Wales, south of New Zealand at a latitude of 78 degrees and 40 minutes on January 14 of last year. There it was seen by the Terra Nova of Captain Scott's expedition, and news was thus first given to the world of Captain Amundsen 's plans.

The trip to the pole was begun on October 20 and proceeded without noticeable event at the rate of twenty miles a day. The general course can be traced on the maps, showing the course of previous expeditions, reproduced here by courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History. The cold and blizzards were a serious hindrance, but not so bad as traveling over the floating ice floes in the north without the possibility of establishing depots for food and being assured of a return by the same route. The great ice plane without a trace of life appeals to the imagination, but traversing it has probably not added considerably to our scientific knowledge, and there does not seem to be much likelihood of economic gains. The coal discovered by Lieutenant Shackleton is only of scientific interest in showing the changes that have taken place in the climate.

Captain Amundsen, who had already won fame by traversing the Northwest Passage, probably regards his expedition to the pole as only an episode, and will proceed with his plan to drift with the ice across the north polar regions.


We regret to record the death of Dr. John Bernhardt Smith, state entomologist of New Jersey and professor of entomology at Rutgers College; of Professor Mason Blanchard Thomas, professor of botany at Wabash College; of Dr. Charles Robert Sanger, professor of chemistry and director of the chemical laboratory at Harvard University; of Dr. Henry Taylor Bovey, F.R.S., formerly professor of civil engineering in McGill University, and of Professor Osborne Reynolds, F.R.S., the distinguished engineer and physicist.

Mr. Samuel Henshaw has been appointed director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology of Harvard University.—Professor Charles Sedgwick Minot has been selected by the German government as Harvard exchange professor at the University of Berlin for 1912-13. Dr. Rudolf Eucken, professor of philosophy at Jena, has been appointed exchange professor at Harvard University.—Dr. Talcott Williams, associate editor of the Philadelphia Press, has been appointed director of the School of Journalism of Columbia University, founded by Mr. Pullitzer. Professor John W. Cunliffe, now head of the department of English of the University of Wisconsin, is the associate director of the school.

For the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, which is to be held this year at Dundee, beginning on September 4, under the presidency of Professor E. A. Schäfer, F.R.S., the following presidents have been appointed to the various sections: Mathematical and Physical Science, Professor H. L. Callendar, F.R.S.; Chemistry, Professor A. Senier; Geology, Dr. B. N. Peach, F.R.S.; Zoology, Dr. P. Chalmers Mitchell, F.R.S.; Geography, Sir Charles M. Watson, K.C.M.G., C.B., R.E.; Economic Science and Statistics, Sir Henry H. Cunnyghame, K.C.B.; Engineering, Professor A. Barr; Anthropology, Professor G. Elliot Smith, F.R.S.; Physiology, Mr. Leonard Hill, F.R.S.; Botany, Professor F. Keeble; Educational Science, Professor J. Adams; Agriculture, Mr. T. H. Middleton.

The treasurer of Columbia University has reported to the trustees that he had received about $1,550,000 from the executors of the estate of the late George Crocker. Accordingly, the work of cancer research, for which Mr. Crocker gave this sum as an endowment, will begin at once.