Popular Science Monthly/Volume 86/February 1915/The Progress of Science

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PSM V86 D208 Museum of the university of pennsylvania.jpg

Museum of the University of Pennsylvania.



The American Association for the Advancement of Science together with a large number of national scientific societies affiliated with it held at Philadelphia, as had been anticipated, a meeting of more than usual magnitude and interest. The University of Pennsylvania is always a generous host, and not only placed at the disposal of the visiting scientific men its laboratories and lecture halls, but was able to provide in Houston Hall an admirable headquarters for registration, council meetings and informal gatherings, while the luncheon served daily in the gymnasium and the evening reception given by Provost and Mrs. Smith in the Museum, offered further opportunities to meet old acquaintances and to form new ones.

Dr. Charles W. Eliot, president emeritus of Harvard University, gives distinction to any meeting over which he presides, and the address of the retiring president, Dr. Edmund B. Wilson, professor of zoology in Columbia University, supported the thesis that scientific eminence is likely to be associated with literary and artistic skill. The program of the meeting, consisting mainly of titles of addresses and papers, filled a volume not much smaller in size than a number of The Popular Science Monthly, and it is obviously impossible to refer even by title to such a series of papers, summing up a great part of the scientific work accomplished in this country during the past year. As there were some two thousand scientific men in attendance and a considerable number of visitors from the city, good audiences were provided even when twenty or thirty meetings were being held simultaneously.

A new feature of the meeting was a session of the Committee of One Hundred on Scientific Research appointed a year ago. Professor E. C. Pickering presided, and reports were presented by subcommittees on research funds, the attitude of colleges and universities to research, the better recognition and greater encouragement of research, the selection and training of men for research, and the research work of industrial laboratories. Committees were appointed on research work under the government, research work on the Pacific coast and the use of the research funds of the association, which latter committee is timely, in view of the fact that Mr. Colburn, one of the fellows of the association, last year made to it a bequest which may amount to over one hundred thousand dollars.

The association will meet next summer in San Francisco and the neighboring universities and next winter at Columbus. Dr. W. W. Campbell, director of the Lick Observatory, was elected president, and most of the vice-presidents were elected from among the scientific men residing on the Pacific coast, their names and work indicating how actively that region is engaged in important scientific research.

The societies devoted to physiology, anatomy and biological chemistry met this year at St. Louis, the geographers, historians and philosophers at Chicago, and the economists and sociologists at Princeton. It is planned to have once in four years a special convocational week meeting in which all scientific men and scientific societies will be invited to join, the first to be in New York two years hence.

After the close of the other meetings, there was held in New York City on January 1 and 2 a gathering of university professors, who organized a new society to be known as the American Association of University Professors, intended to accomplish for teachers in our higher institutions of learning the objects attained in kindred professions by the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association. Professor John Dewey, of Columbia University, who had been chairman of the committee on organization, presided at the meeting and after the association had been formed was elected its first president. Professor Arthur O Lovejoy, of the Johns Hopkins University, who had been secretary of the committee on organization, presented plans which had been drawn up by the committee. An opening address by the chairman outlined the needs and purposes of such an organization, and this was followed by a number of general addresses, after which most of the time during the three sessions was devoted to discussion of the plans and objects of the association, as embodied in the constitution, which was ultimately adopted in a provisional form.


The mining of iron ore and the manufacture of iron are regarded as a valuable index of commercial prosperity and interest attaches to the report of Mr. Ernest F. Burchard, of the U. S. Geological Survey, according to which the quantity of iron ore mined in the United States in 1914 is estimated to have been between 41,000,000 and 42,500,000 long tons, and the quantity shipped from the mines to receiving ports and iron-manufacturing centers between 39,500,000 and 41,000,000 long tons. These estimates are based on preliminary reports from 52 of the important iron-mining companies which represent the principal iron-producing districts and whose combined output in 1913 was more than 90 per cent, of the total tonnage of iron ore mined in that year.

The average decrease in quantity mined by these 52 companies was 33 per cent, compared with their output in 1913, and if this average decrease should hold for all the iron-mining companies in the United States the total output of iron ore in 1914 should approximate 41,440,000 long tons, compared with 61.980,437 long tons mined in 1913. A curve of iron-ore production would therefore show the output of 1914 to be about on a par with that of the years 1905 and 1911. Coincident with the decrease of 33 per cent, in ore mined the iron ore shipped from the mines by the same producers decreased also 33 per cent., and if the shipments for the whole country are figured on this basis the quantiy of ore shipped should approximate 39,810,000 long tons, compared with 59,643,098 long tons shipped in 1913.

In the Lake Superior district, where about 85 per cent, of the domestic iron ore is mined, the average decrease in production was about 37 per cent., thus indicating a total production for that district of about 32,915,000 long tons in 1914, compared with 52,518,158 long tons mined in 1913. The shipments of ore from this district apparently decreased about 34 per cent., and accordingly the shipments should approximate 32,790,000 long tons in 1914, compared with 50,168,134 long tons in 1913.

According the preliminary reports the stocks of iron ore at the mines apparently increased more than 500,000 long tons during 1914, so that the total stocks at the close of 1914 should range between 13,400,000 and 13,500,000 long tons, compared with 12,918,633 long tons on hand at the close of 1913. These figures are, however, subject to greater uncertainty than the other estimates, because the returns to the survey are based largely on estimated data.

Officials of the iron-mining companies are almost unanimous in reporting great depression of trade during 1914. Prices generally were 50 to 75 cents a ton lower than in 1913—as low as or lower than those of 1912 and 1905. The depression in the iron industry affected seriously the lake carrying trade, which depends largely on the transportation of ore from the Lake Superior district to ports at the head of Lake Michigan and at the foot of Lake Erie. During the later part of the autumn probably as many iron mines

PSM V86 D211 William Osler.jpg
Sir William Osler.
were closed or running on half time as at any other time for many years, and owing to the present inactivity in the industries which consume iron ores and to the accumulation of considerable ore stocks in the hands of the consumers, the iron-mining companies are not expecting great activity in the early part of 1915.


On the occasion of the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Johns Hopkins Hospital last October a crayon portrait of Sir William Osier by Mr. Sargent, here reproduced, was presented to the hospital through Professor William S. Thayer, who spoke as follows:

The precious gift it is my privilege now to offer to the hospital is but another reminder of him who, though absent in person, has been with us and in us and around us in spirit from the beginning of this gathering. What have been his contributions to medical science, what his inspiration and efforts and example have been to this institution, are so familiar to us all that it would be impudent to mention them. Would that we could put into words the influence that the man has had upon our lives! How much of that which is best in us is due to him and to his example! In all the fifteen years of my close and constant association with him I never knew him to do a hasty or an inconsiderate act, and I never heard him speak an unkind word of any man. Of how many can one say this? He is like Maeterlinck's true sage, in whose presence discord and strife and misunderstanding are impossible. In losing him we felt that we had lost our best friend and adviser, but he left us a legacy of tolerance and forbearance and charity that is among the richest of our possessions. This whole institution is replete with memories of the man; and no statue, no tablet, no portrait can bring him more vividly to our minds. But there will be others who follow after to whom our poor words will convey but a faint picture of that which is a part of us. And so his old disciples welcome with heartfelt gratitude every new image which may help better to fix for posterity the presence of our dear chief. The value of this new possession is greatly enhanced in that it comes to us through the thoughtful generosity of her who shares with him our lasting love and affection. Lady Osier, of her own initiative, has induced Mr. Sargent to make this replica of the portrait drawn by him for the College of Physicians in Philadelphia, and has sent it to us to-day. And so after all he is with us! We shall gain new inspiration from his counterfeit presence. Let us wait patiently in the hope that, four years hence, when the heavy clouds of the hour shall have rolled away, we may give him that welcome which our hearts hold for him to-day.


We record with regret the deaths of Samuel Benedict Christy, professor of mining and metallurgy in the University of California; of Charles Martin Hall, the American eleetrochemist; of Professor N. C. Dunér, the Swedish astronomer; of Dr. Charles Périer, one of the most distinguished surgeons in France, and Dr. A. Van Geuchten, professor of anatomy and neuro-pathology at Louvain University.

Signor Guglielmo Marconi has been appointed a member of the Italian senate by King Victor Emmanuel.—It is one of the privileges of the Spanish Academia de Medicina that it is entitled to a seat in the senate. The member of the academy recently elected senator in this way is Dr. B. G. Alvarez, one of the editors of the Pediatria Español.—The gold medal of the Geographical Society of Chicago has been awarded to Colonel George W. Goethals. It will be presented to him at a dinner to be given by the society on January 23.

Several large bequests are reported I this month for educational and public purposes. Dr. Charles M. Hall, known for his work on aluminum, bequeaths $3,000,000 to Oberlin College; Miss Grace Dodge, who during her lifetime was active in educational and charitable work, leaves $500,000 to Teachers College, Columbia University, $700,000 to Young Women's Christian Associations and other public bequests. Large bequests for public purposes are made by the will of Mrs. Mary Anna Palmer Draper, to whom in her lifetime science was greatly indebted for intelligent and generous support, including $150,000 to the Harvard College Observatory and $450,000 to the New York Public Library.