Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/36

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problems open others; and so again and again in the infinity of the periodic turns in the development-course of human knowledge.

The unparalleled spectacle to which Paris invited the civilized world last fall not only shows that science is exercising its binding force in spite of popular discords, but it at the same time teaches, better than all words, that, if the recent brilliant development of technics has dulled the taste for pure science, it has on the other hand compensated a thousand-fold for this injury. The electrical apparatus of thirty years ago filled a large room; that of to-day, generally illustrated by several specimens, filled a world's Exhibition-Building. Eilhard Mitscherlich has remarked of Herr Wiedeman's treatise on galvanism and electro-magnetism that nothing speaks more eloquently of the power of the human mind than that book filled with the clear facts which physicists have procured. Deep in thought we walked, keeping these words in mind, through the magic palace of the Elysian Fields, illuminated by the electric light, and ventilated by electrical machinery. We sometimes speak slightingly of Americanism, intimating that it bears utilitarianism on its shield. But who does not feel a patriotic pressure for old Europe at the wonders of the telephone and the phonograph? or at the report of the confirmation by Asaph Hall, with Alvah Clark's objective, of the discovery of the astronomers of Laputa? Hardly a year passes but that the newspapers report some new magnificent institution for purposes of pure science which American public spirit has called into life through private means, in a manner that is known on this side of the water only in England. The names of American historians, thinkers, and philologists are known along with the best, and are particularly dear to this Academy. We must accustom ourselves to the thought that, as the economical center of gravity of the civilized world lies already, like the center of gravity of a double star, between the old and the new continents, in the Atlantic ocean, so also will the scientific center of gravity in time move strongly toward the west. Enough: Europe may look out lest its science may be in more danger from the militarism which is forced upon it by the chauvinsm of all nationalities than American science from utilitarianism.

In one point, indeed, we may well reckon that leadership will not so soon be wrested from us. The co-operation of a body supported by the state, already fully composed into a permanent organization, representing in the highest possible degree the aggregate of knowledge, whose age and famous past give weight to its decisions, is a force not to be created overnight, even with the most ample means and efforts. Ingenious inventors, single though ever so worthy scholars and investigators, can not take the place of academies in the scientific life of a nation. It was a simple thing that the telephone should be discovered; remarkable that the explanation of it was reserved for members of our Academy.