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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/39

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MEN OF SCIENCE AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC.

erection of a laboratory or the planning of an expedition, and I am unwilling to believe that such failures are due to anything other than culpable negligence on the part of the individual.

It is generally recognized that, aside from all questions of a partisan political nature, this country is to-day confronted by several problems of the utmost importance to its welfare, to the proper solution of which the highest intellectual powers of the nation should be given. The computation of the trajectory of a planet is a far easier task than forecasting the true policy of a great republic, but those qualities of the human intellect which have made the first possible should not be allowed to remain idle while an intelligent public is striving to attain the last. That men of science have not, thus far, made their full contribution to the solution of some of these great problems is due to the fact that many have exhibited an inexcusable apathy toward everything relating to the public welfare, while others have not approached the subject with that breadth of preparation in the close study of human affairs which is necessary to establish the authenticity of their equations of condition. As already intimated, we do not seem to be getting on in this direction. Our own early history and the history of other nations is full of examples of eminent scientific men who were no less distinguished as publicists and statesmen. The name of Franklin is imperishable alike in the history of science and of politics. On many questions relating to exact science the Adamses spoke with confidence; Thomas Jefferson was a philosopher, and, on assuming the duties of the highest office in the gift of the people, counted his opportunities for association with men of science as one of its chiefest rewards. Other illustrations might be selected from the pages of the history of our own country; while in Europe, where science has been longer cultivated and under more favorable conditions, they are much more common. This is notably so in France, whose roll of scientific men who have distinguished themselves and their country during the past century includes many names prominent alike for the importance of their performance in her various crises of peace and war. The present President of the French Republic, himself an engineer, bears a name made famous in the history of science by the rich contributions of his ancestors, one of whom voted for the execution of Louis XVI, and was a member of the Committee of Public Safety. It would be difficult to overestimate the value to science, as well as to the public, of the presence in the halls of legislation of even a very small number of men who might stand as exponents of the methods of science and as competent authorities on the results of their application. Our national Congress, especially, is almost constantly dealing with questions of great moment to the people, which can only be thoroughly understood and wisely