Popular Science Monthly/Volume 84/May 1914/The Progress of Science

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

The extraordinary development of universities in the United States is paralleled by the growth of its museums. In Washington, New York, Chicago and Pittsburgh, four museums of natural history have in a comparatively brief period taken their places among the leading institutions of the world, and in many other cities there are important and growing museums. Many of these museums, like the universities, are interesting demonstrations of the possible achievements of a democracy. On the one hand, they are supported in almost equal measure by taxation and by private gifts, on the other hand, they are devoted not primarily to the preservation of stuffed animals, but to education, research and public service.

The forty-fifth annual report of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City illustrates these remarks. The city has provided land and buildings worth many million dollars and approved a plan of development of unexampled magnitude. The city also provided last year $200,000 for maintenance. Then for exploration, research and the increase of the collections about $250,000 accrued from private endowment and gifts. The annual gifts are about equal in amount from the trustees and from members and friends, who number some 3,500.

The illustrations here reproduced show the museum and its approaches, though it should not be assumed that such crowds enter the museum every day in the year. The total attendance in 1913 was 866,633, of whom 138,375 were primarily present for lectures and scientific meetings. Part of the attendance in the galleries was due to the flower exhibition of the Horticultural Society and other temporary exhibits, which Dr. Lucas, the director, holds do not result in any real profit to a museum. We should suppose, however, that while such exhibits and the large number of lectures and scientific meetings may not greatly increase interest in the natural history collections, they enlarge the functions of a museum in a desirable manner.

This holds still more for the expeditions and research work. As in the university the professor earns his salary by teaching but is expected to advance knowledge, so in the museum the curator must care for the display of the exhibits but he should also be engaged in scientific research. So long as society provides no way of paying directly for the results of investigations having no immediate commercial value, these must be undertaken by universities and scientific institutions. This should be regarded as part of their function, but in any case it is justified by the fact that the professor or curator will do the work of teaching or caring for collections better if ha is encouraged to engage in research and publication, and under these circumstances better men can be secured for the positions.

Though the museum has been unfortunate in losing two of its most distinguished investigators, Professor Boas of Columbia University in anthropology and Professor Wheeler of Harvard University in invertebrate zoology, it produces each year an important series of contributions to scientific knowledge. Last year the sum of $25,000 was spent on publications, partly technical researches, of which Dr. P. G. Elliot's "A Review of the Primates" is the most noteworthy, and partly on popular publications, including the excellent "Museum Journal."

PSM V84 D519 1 Visitors entering the american museum of natural history.jpg

 

PSM V84 D519 2 Visitors entering the american museum of natural history.jpg

Visitors Entering the American Museum of Natural History.

PSM V84 D520 Exploring parties 1913 american museum of natural history.jpg

Map of the World

 

The report of the president. Dr. Osborn, reviews the general progress of the work of the museum, noting the establishment of a contributory pension system, according to which the employee contributes to the fund three per cent, of his salary and the trustees provide an equal amount. Among installations, the collection of bronzes made in China by Dr. Laufer is especially noted. Gifts include the Mason archeological collection from Tennessee by the late Mr. J. P. Morgan, the Angelo Heilprin Exploring Fund, established by Mr. and Mrs. Paul J. Sachs, and numerous specimens from individuals and institutions.

The museum, however, must depend for its most valuable accessions on its own expeditions. The number and range of these expeditions in 1913 are shown on the chart. The expedition to Crocker Land, under Mr. McMillan, suffered from the stranding of the Diana, but has proceeded to the Arctic regions. Expeditions to the north in search of bowhead whales and to the south to secure the nearly extinct sea elephant were not successful, but other material was obtained including motion pictures of the life on the seal islands. The paleontological and ethnoogical expeditions in the west from which important collections and researches have resulted were continued. In South America Mr. Chapman and others have made ornithological surveys and collections, and the present expedition of Mr. Roosevelt is under the auspices of the museum. Africa has been explored by Messrs. Lang, Chapin, Rainsford and Rainey. Dr. Osborn, the president, has visited the French prehistoric caverns. Such expeditions not only increase in the most desirable wav the collections of a museum, but also contribute in large measure to the advancement of science.

 

THE MARVELS OF SCIENCE

It would perhaps be worth while to issue a number of The Popular Science Monthly consisting entirely of articles sent in by those who in Bishop Berkeley's phrase are "undebauched by learning." At first sight it might seem disquieting that there are so many people in the United States without the slightest training or appreciation of scientific methods who would like to publish their views on electricity, gravity, the ice age and similar topics, or have them endowed by the Carnegie Institution. But we may in fact regard it as a not altogether unsatisfactory symptom of universal education in a democracy, and of growing interest in science. The pseudo-science often exhibited in our daily papers and legislative halls will surely be eliminated by a comparatively small increase in education and the control of public sentiment by those who know, and we may then look to a notable advance in scientific research through the rewards and opportunities which a discriminating public would be able to bestow.

While it might be unfair to print some of the contributions sent in, it may not be amiss to quote two paragraphs which have just now been brought to our attention. The first is from a speech in the House of Representatives by Mr. Hobson of Alabama, which is being widely circulated under the congressional franking privilege. He said:

The last word of science, after exact research in all the domains, is that alcohol is a poison. It has been found to be a hydrocarbon of the formula , that is produced by the process of fermentation, and is the toxin or liquid excretion or waste product of the yeast or ferment germ. According to the universal law cf biology that the toxin of one form of life is a poison to all forms of life of a higher alcohol, the toxin of the low yeast germ, is a protoplasmic poison to all life, whether plant, animal or man, and to all the living tissues and organs.
*******
After long continued drinking, even though temperate, the microscope shows that the white blood corpuscles, with the serum which contains their vegetable food continually sucked up by the dehydrating toxin, become carnivorous, and begin to feed upon the tissues and organs, like disease germs. The favorite tissue food of the degenerate corpuscles are the tender cells of latest development. In the human being the latest development is the brain. The microscope shows the degenerate corpuscles, with the goods upon them, down in their bodies the gray matter of the brain. This accounts for the tremendous mortality among heavy drinkers and for the degeneracy that will be referred to later.

The second quotation, the head lines and editorial from the April publications of a Sunday newspaper syndicate, is as follows:

WHEN THE WORLD'S BACK BROKE

By James Oliver Curwood

Illustrated by

Charles Livingston Bull

EDITOR'S VOTE.—Mr. Curwood is the first writer to tell in fiction the dramatic story of that day thousands of years ago, when in the space of what was probably tin more than a few minutes the earth tilted twenty-three and a half degrees on its axis, transforming what was then a tropical world into the blackness of a night which lasted for unnumbered centuries, and out of which came what are known as the North Polar regions of today. In that one "first night" of a life that had known only perpetual day all living creatures perished; but entombed in their caskets of ice and frozen earth many of tin m have conn down tn us fifty or a hundred thousand years later, so completely preserved that the flesh of mastodons recently discovered was eaten by dogs and men. In fact, Mr. Curwood helped uncover a mastodon at Fort Migley and ate of the flesh.

 

QUARANTINE OF HAWAIIAN FRUIT

The office of information of the Department of Agriculture has sent out a notice in regard to the stringent regulations which have been adopted to guard against danger from the melon fly and the Mediterranean fruit fly. Any one who attempts after May 1, to bring into the United States certain Hawaiian fruits, nuts and vegetables will face a penalty of $500 fine or imprisonment for a year or both. A new order issued by the Department of Agriculture provides this punishment for attempts to violate the quarantine declared in 1912, under the plants quarantine act, against Hawaiian products which might introduce into the United States two dangerous pests, the melon fly and the Mediterranean fruit fly. ruder the new regulations importations of bananas and pineapples are per mined under stringent conditions of inspection and certification. Practically all other fruits and such vegetables as tomatoes, squashes, green peppers and string leans are absolutely excluded. Circulars are to be distributed on all incoming steamships warning passengers of the quarantine and the reason for it.

Hitherto the United states has fortunately been free from both the melon fly and the Mediterranean fruit fly. The latter in particular has proved a source of great loss, practically putting i an end to the fruit industry wherever it has obtained a good foothold. The Bermuda peach crop, for instance, is now a thing of the past. It is believed to have originated on the west coast of Africa, its name being due to the great damage it did after it had been carried to the Mediterranean. It also spread to Bermuda, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, whence t was carried in ships' cargoes to Hawaii. In all probability the fly would lie in California to-day if it were not for the fact that no fruit is grown in the immediate vicinity of San Francisco. The great danger is that some traveler may unknowingly bring with him as a curiosity pest-infected fruit, nuts or vegetables and introduce them into a region favorable for the fly's spread.

Commercially the quarantine will not seriously interfere with Hawaiian industries. Bananas and pineapples, the only fruits which are grown in the island in commercial quantities, do not, as a rule, carry the infection. When property inspected and packed in accordance with the department's regulations, they will, therefore, be allowed admission. Other fruits, such as alligator pears, Chinese ink berries,

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The Late Sir John Murray,

the distinguished Scottish oceanographer.

 

figs, guavas, papayas, etc., are far more dangerous. They have, however, little commercial importance. If they are taken on board at all, they must either be consumed or thrown overboard before the ship reaches the United States.

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS

We record with regret the deaths of Dr. Edward Singleton Holden, astronomer and librarian of the United States Naval Academy, formerly director of the Lick Observatory; of Mr. George Westinghouse, the distinguished inventor and engineer; of Dr. Alexander F. Chamberlain, professor of anthropology at Clark University; of Adolph Francis Alphonse Bandelier, an authority on South American archeology, lecturer in Columbia University, and of Dr. John Henry Poynting, professor of physics at Birmingham University.

A portrait of Sir William Ramsay, painted by Mr. Mark Milbanke, has been presented to University College, London, by former colleagues and past students. Professor J. Norman Collie made the address. A replica of the portrait has been presented to Lady Ramsay.

The former students of Dr. J. McKeen Cattell, professor of psychology in Columbia University, at a dinner held in New York on April 8, presented him, in celebration of his completion of twenty-five years as professor of psychology, with a "Festschrift" in the form of reviews of his researches and of the work in psychology to which they have led. On April 6, 7 and 8, there was held at Columbia University a Conference on Individual Psychology by former students of the department of psychology, at which thirty papers were presented.

The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York, announces that it has received from Mr. John D. Rockefeller an additional endowment of $1,000,000 for the purpose of organizing a department for the study of animal diseases. A gift of $50,000 has also been received from Mr. James J. Hill, for the study of hog cholera.

Following the disastrous fire at Wellesley College the General Education Board has promised to give $750,000 to the college on condition that the balance of the $2,000,000 restoration and endowment fund is completed by January 1, 1915.

Mr. Andrew Carnegie has given $100,000 to the New York Zoological Society to provide a pension fund for the Now York Zoological Park and the Aquarium. The scientific staff and the employees will contribute annually 2 per cent, of their salaries, and any sum that may be lacking will 1 e made up by the Zoological Society.

As has already been noted in Science, the American Chemical Society held its spring meeting at Cincinnati, Ohio, during the week of April 6. Each of the sections had a full and important program. At the general session on the first day, after addresses of welcome by the mayor of the city and the president of the University of Cincinnati, and a reply by the president of the society. Professor Theodore W. Richards, the following papers were announced: Arthur L. Day, "The Chemical Problems of an Active Volcano"; L. J. Henderson, "The Chemical Fitness of the World for Life"; W. D. Bancroft, "Flame Reactions"; Irving Langmuir, "Chemical Reactions at Low Pressures."