Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/32

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them do not need advice from us. It is for the large class of undergraduates who pursue the study of physics for a greater or less time that we may be concerned.

Contemporary with the recognition of the possibility of greatly improved methods of instruction was the recognition of the value of the more thorough study of physics as an element in what is called a liberal education.

These were alike the results of the tremendous strides made by physical science, beginning twenty-five or thirty years ago. Grand and beautiful generalizations commanded the admiration of men skilled in other departments of human knowledge, and equally wonderful applications of principles to practice touched our every-day existence upon so many sides as to draw forth applause from the millions who are without the "inner court." Physics thus found or forced its way upon the college curriculum to an extent much greater than had previously been thought possible or desirable.

A few keen-sighted men, combining in themselves, happily, the student and the teacher, recognized the fact that thorough instruction in physics implied and demanded the use of laboratory methods, such as had been utilized for some years in chemistry, and were rapidly coming into prominence in every other department of natural science.

Among these was, notably, Professor Pickering, whose establishment of a working physical laboratory for purposes of instruction, in the Institute of Technology at Boston, must be regarded as an epoch in the history of this progress; and with this also might be linked, although following at a little later date, the widely-known establishment made by Professor Mayer at Hoboken.

These were quickly followed by others in the East and in the West, and at the present time there are many institutions of learning in which the laboratory methods of instruction are in use, and whose equipment includes a so-called physical laboratory.

To all interested in the study of the present condition of this work I would especially recommend the very valuable "Report on the Teaching of Chemistry and Physics in the United States," prepared by Professor Clarke, of the University of Cincinnati, and issued about a year ago by the Bureau of Education. This report is full of facts of great value, and doubtless fairly represents the relative standing of collegiate instruction in these two important subjects at the present time.

Professor Clarke has classified the various courses of instruction in physics as follows:

1. Full course, including higher mathematical physics, advanced laboratory work, and research.

2. Full course, with mathematical physics and elementary laboratory work.