Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/60

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on that occasion by my distinguished predecessor in office, Sir John Lubbock, has proved, at least, that the British Association is not dead in the affections of its members, and it behooves us at this, the first ordinary gathering in the second half-century, to consider what are the strong points to rely upon for the continuance of a career of success and usefulness.

If the facilities brought home to our doors of acquiring scientific information have increased, the necessities for scientific inquiry have increased in a greater ratio. The time was when science was cultivated only by the few, who looked upon its application to the arts and manufactures as almost beneath their consideration; this they were content to leave in the hands of others, who, with only commercial aims in view, did not aspire to further the objects of science for its own sake, but thought only of benefiting by its teachings. Progress could not be rapid under this condition of things, because the man of pure science rarely pursued his inquiry beyond the mere enunciation of a physical or chemical principle, while the simple practitioner was at a loss how to harmonize the new knowledge with the stock of information which formed his mental capital in trade.

The advancement of the last fifty years has, I venture to submit, rendered theory and practice so interdependent, that an intimate union between them is a matter of absolute necessity for our future progress. 'Take, for instance, the art of dyeing, and we find that the discovery of new coloring matters derived from waste products, such as coal-tar, completely changes its practice, and renders an intimate knowledge of the science of chemistry a matter of absolute necessity to the practitioner. In telegraphy and in the new arts of applying electricity to lighting, to the transmission of power, and to metallurgical operations, problems arise at every turn, requiring for their solution not only an intimate acquaintance with, but a positive advance upon, electrical science, as established by purely theoretical research in the laboratory. In general engineering, the mere practical art of constructing a machine so designed and proportioned as to produce mechanically the desired effect would suffice no longer. Our increased knowledge of the nature of the mutual relations between the different forms of energy makes us see clearly what are the theoretical limits of effect; these, although beyond our absolute reach, may be looked upon as the asymptotes to be approached indefinitely by the hyperbolic course oft practical progress, of which we should never lose sight. Cases arise, moreover, where the introduction of new materials of construction, or the call for new effects, renders former rules wholly insufficient. In all these cases practical knowledge has to go hand in hand with advanced science in order to accomplish the desired end.

Far be it from me to think lightly of the ardent students of nature, who, in their devotion to research, do not allow their minds to travel into the regions of utilitarianism and of self-interest. These, the high--