Popular Science Monthly/Volume 83/December 1913/The Progress of Science

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1580106Popular Science Monthly Volume 83 December 1913 — The Progress of Science1913



Work has begun on the new buildings for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and it is expected that they will be occupied two years hence. It will be remembered that after long discussion it was decided that a new site for the institute was required, and after the accession of Dr. Richard C. Maclaurin to the presidency and a gift of $500,000 from Mr. Coleman du Pont, land was purchased in Cambridge fronting the Charles River basin. An anonymous gift of $2,500,000, followed by another gift of $500,000 and an equal sum subscribed by the alumni, has enabled the institute to proceed with the construction. Six months ago, Mr. William W. Bosworth, of New York, a graduate of the institute of the class of '89, was selected as architect, and with the advice of the officers of the school of architecture of the institute and of the professors in the different departments, designs have been drawn up. The ground plan here reproduced shows the extensive scale of the plans, and some indication of the architectural treatment is given in the sketches.

The educational portion is a connected group of buildings of white Indiana limestone, three and four stories in height, clustered about the library, as the central feature. The great dome looks down on the court from a height of nearly two hundred feet. The central court, open to the river front, expands into two large, though minor courts, when near the esplanade. These openings, with the other courts interior to the buildings, ensure the necessary lighting of the rooms.

The pilaster treatment, so effectively

Ground Plan for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Library and Education Building from the Charles River.

used in the Harvard Medical School, has been applied as being most consistent with the needs of the work. Here light and air are the essentials and this construction permits the recesses to be almost entirely of glass. At the corners are pavilions, which satisfy the eye as to stability. In the buildings nearest the river, which here present long facades, the pilasters will be two stories in height with the third story really constituting the frieze. In the structures farther back there is an attic above the establature. This succession of buildings increasing in height from front to rear is a distinctive feature of the group, and furnishes grades and lines that converge towards the massive octagon from which rises the drum and its culminating dome.

The Pratt School of Naval Architecture and the Massachusetts Avenue Facade.

The courts will be flanked by the department buildings and the latter are to be linked together so as to afford circulation throughout all portions of the vast structure. It will be unnecessary for the student to go out of doors in passing from one exercise to another. The comparatively narrow buildings will receive light from both sides and in addition it is planned to place all the draughting rooms on the top floor. Here, hidden by the parapets, there will be the standard saw-tooth skylights. The unit system is used in the interior, so that partitions can be readily rearranged. The departmtments can be extended as more space is needed and in the rear less expensive construction can be used.

The frontage along the Charles River Esplanade is fifteen hundred feet, while the length along Massachusetts Avenue is about the same. Half of the site is to be devoted to the educational buildings; the other half, to the east, will be for the students and social facilities. It is the intention to develop a dormitory system surrounding the Walker Memorial, gymnasium, commons and other student features.

In the educational group the school of architecture will occupy the right angle at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and the esplanade, the bridge being really a part of the avenue. On the third side of the court will be civil engineering, running parallel with the esplanade. Continuing along Massachusetts Avenue will be the Pratt School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. Within the interior court behind the Pratt School is the great auditorium. Parallel with the Pratt School and bordering the central court will be hydraulic engineering and beyond this, mechanical engineering, with space for enlargement. This expansion will be towards the back of the grounds and towards the railway. Near this will be placed the laboratories that involve the handling of very heavy weights and the power plant.

Coming again to the esplanade the buildings that surround the minor court to the east will be devoted to general studies and biology, the latter occupying the inner wing parallel with the esplanade. Chemistry will occupy the long building on the farther side of the great court and mining, engineering and metallurgy will occupy the northeast corner. Electrical engineering finds its place behind the general library, and this situation will permit its incomparable collection of books to be essentially a part of the general library.


The Johns Hopkins University has played a great part in the development of higher education and scientific research in the United States. When Johns Hopkins established a university in Baltimore, he presumably had in mind an institution for boys of Maryland and the south such as Princeton or Amherst, but through the initiative of its first president, Daniel Coit Gilman, a university was created of the kind that has given Germany its leadership in scholarship and research. Each of the first professors—Gildersleeve in Greek, Sylvester in mathematics, Rowland in physics, Remsen in chemistry, Martin in physiology—was a man of distinction called to advance his science in his own way. Buildings, administration and routine teaching were subordinated to the personality of such men.

An advance of equal importance was made by the same university when the medical school was opened in 1893 and placed on a true university basis. Chiefly under the guidance of Dr. William H. Welch a faculty of distinguished men was brought together, and only students—including women, it may be noted—were admitted who were adequately prepared. At that time nearly all the medical schools in the United States were proprietary institutions conducted by the professors for the financial profit which the connection gave them in their practise. The Johns Hopkins University placed the laboratory sciences—physiology, anatomy and pharmacology—on a proper basis, and Dr. Welch led the way in this country in giving pathology a similar status. The clinical chairs were also filled by men of distinction, such as Dr. Osier and Dr. Halstead, and the medical school and the hospital formed an integral institution.

Other universities, notably. Harvard, have followed the lead of the Johns Hopkins Medical School, and remarkable progress has been made in medical education and research in the United States in the thirty years which have elapsed since the opening of the school in Baltimore. But in this country, as in Great Britain, and to a large extent in Germany and France, the professor who teaches in the medical school and has charge of the wards in the hospital, receives no salary or a nominal salary for these services and earns his living by his private practise. A few exceptional men have the force of character which enables them to limit their practise to eases which it is desirable for them to see in the interest of their university work. As a rule, however, the reverse holds and the university and hospital position is sought and used to promote a private practise and a large income. When a university professor travels forty-eight hours in the train for a consultation, one may be pretty sure that it is for the fee rather than for the service or for the experience.

At the present moment the Johns Hopkins Medical School and Hospital are undertaking to reform this unsatisfactory state of affairs. The General Education Board, endowed by Mr. John D. Rockefeller, has appropriated about one and a half million dollars to establish a William II. Welch fund. The revenue is to be used to enable the school to reorganize the departments of medicine, surgery and pediatrics so that the professors and their associates in the clinics and the laboratories shall be able to devote their entire time to their work. They are free to see and treat any one, whether inside or outside the hospital, but they will accept no personal fee for any such service.

The situation is clearly one of great difficulty. The professor of medicine or surgery may earn fifty to a hundred thousand dollars a year by his private practise. If he relinquishes this for a salary of $10,000, the income may appear ample to the young physician, but scarcely so to the consultant, to whom the automobile has become one of the necessaries of life. If the salary is made larger than $10,000, an apparent injustice is done to the professor of physiology or Greek having equal ability. Then any socialistic scheme of this character limits the freedom of action of the individual, and under the existing system of university organization the limitation may be irksome and may even be subject to a serious trade risk. There is danger lest the ablest men may not want the professorships in the medical schools under such conditions.

Still the movement is surely in the direction that must ultimately prevail. The physician should be paid by the state to preserve health rather than be employed by the patient for a service which it is usually beyond his power to provide. In the face of opposition from the larger part of the profession the British government has this year provided a wide-reaching system by which the physician is largely paid by the state in accordance not with the number of visits he makes, but in proportion to the number of persons who select him. It may be that before long under the control of the state officers of our railways and industrial trusts will receive salaries on condition that they do not engage in outside business. A medical school and hospital which provided the best attainable medical and surgical skill could properly charge the rich fees in accordance with their incomes and earn large amounts to be used for medical research and the promotion of the health of the community. It might not be advisable for all medical schools to adopt the qualifications for students and professors of the Johns Hopkins school, but it is well that there is at least one such institution in the United States.


We record with regret the death of Dr. Philip Reese Uhler, since 1891 provost of the Peabody Institute, Baltimore, known for his contributions to entomology and geology; of Dr. Charles McBurney, formerly demonstrator of anatomy and professor of surgery in the College of Physicians of Columbia University; of Sir William Preece, the distinguished British electrical engineer; and of M. Charles Tellier, the inventor of the cold storage system.

It is announced from Paris that M. Charles Richet, professor of physiology in the university, has been awarded the Nobel prize for medicine.—Dr. George E. Hale, director of the Mount Wilson Solar Observatory, has been elected an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Professor Willard C. Fisher, whose forced resignation from the chair of economics and sociology at Wesleyan on the alleged ground of his views on Sabbath observance will be remembered, has been appointed lecturer on economics at Harvard University for the current academic year.

In connection with the Sixth International Congress of Mathematicians, to be held in Stockholm in 1916, King Gustav V., of Sweden, has founded a prize, consisting of a gold medal bearing a portrait of Weierstrass and a cash sum of 3,000 crowns, for the best contribution to the theory of analytic functions.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science and its affiliated societies will meet at Atlanta, Georgia, beginning on December 29, Dr. E. B. Wilson, professor of zoology, Columbia University, is the president for the meeting, and the address of the vice-president will be given by Dr. Edward C. Pickering, of the Harvard College Observatory. Other scientific societies will meet in different places; the zoologists in Philadelphia; the geologists in Princeton; the anthropologists in New York and the psychologists in New Haven.