Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/37

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THE SCIENCE OF THE PRESENT PERIOD.

At the time of their foundation the older academies entirely constituted the scientific world. In the universities, the so-called professional faculties had quite the upper hand over the philosophical, and in them classical philology predominated. The academies had intercourse with each other, but hardly exerted any influence on the outer world, which was strangely out of sympathy with them, except through their prize problems. Even in the comparatively idyllic conditions of the first half of the century, they limited themselves chiefly to the fulfillment of their inner calling, to their own scientific labors.

In view of the constant pressure of forces of every kind and degree, of the atomistic division of labor around us, of the unregulated assumptions, the short memory, of the overwhelmingly commonplace life of the present generation, the academies have an outer vocation in addition to their inner one. It is their duty to preserve the bond of connection in the division of labor, to have a look to the welfare of knowledge in the flight of the phenomena of the day. They should bring into competition with the dangerous enticements of technics, the charm of pure knowledge. Her sacred instrument, method, is in their care; but in Germany, where the false gods of perverted speculation are constantly finding willing Baal-servitors, it is especially incumbent on them to throw these idols out wherever they are smuggled in, and to drive away their priests. The necessary complement of an externally acting influence of the Academy is a no less vivid reaction from without upon the Academy, an interaction for the maintenance of which an alert organ, ready for the combat, is needed. The venerable but somewhat unwieldy form in which our body has comfortably moved for some tens of years could not satisfy such a demand of this "rapid, giddy-footed time." Our slowly and irregularly appearing "Monatsberichte," which were overwhelmed in the struggle for light and air with numerous active special journals, could not perform this service.

The Academy has, therefore, made some quite important changes in its arrangements and in the course of its business, which last year received the sanction of our immediate protector, his Majesty the Emperor and King. Among other things it has doubled the number of its class sittings, at the expense of the general meetings, and, in order to keep pace with the rise of new branches of science, it has quadrupled the number of its ordinary members. Following the time honored example of its renowned sister of Paris, it has decided, not without opposition, on a kind of publication of its proceedings, which by means of weekly reports of meetings (Sitzungsberichte) shall satisfy the desire of members as well as of strangers for the most speedy information of its transactions. Our arrangement still leaves it possible to afford a place also for the former more complete and less urgent statements. The external appearance of the new "Berichte," and we