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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/231

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missioner of Education, and Prof. R. S. Woodward, president-elect of the American Association, as vice-presidents. M. Bourgeois, late French Minister of Education, is the general president, and M. Gréard, rector of the University of Paris, is president of the French Group. The plans for the Assembly this summer are based directly on the Paris Exposition. It is proposed to establish headquarters on the grounds of the Exposition, in the buildings of the University of Paris and at other places, where those interested in the scientific aspects of the Exposition and in the scientific and educational congresses may meet and receive information and guidance. Special visits to the Exposition and other excursions, special lectures and entertainments, special summaries of the work of the congresses, etc., are promised. The Association is not, however, limited to the Paris Exposition, but proposes a permanent organization for the holding of assemblies and the organization of relations between men of science of different nations. Those interested in the Paris Assembly may secure further information from Mr. Ely, secretary of the American Group, 23 East Forty-fourth street, New York City.


The Government of the United States does more to develop the resources of the country and advance science than any other nation. On these objects the sum of over $8,000,000 is spent annually and over 5,000 officers are employed. Yet in one direction it has fallen far behind the great European nations. Our Department of Agriculture, our Geological Survey and many other agencies surpass in range and efficiency the similar institutions eleswhere, but the applications of physics and chemistry to the arts have not enjoyed equal advantages. The Physikalische-Technische Reichsanstalt, the national physical laboratory of the German Empire, established under the direction of von Helmholtz, is conducted at an annual cost of $80,000, and there is in addition a German bureau of weights and measures on which the sum of $36,000 is annually expended. For similar purposes Great Britain spends annually $62,000, Austria, $46,000, and Russia, $17,500, whereas, our office of Standard Weights and Measures receives the meager appropriation of $10,400. We are very glad to learn that the Secretary of the Treasury has submitted an amendment to the pending sundry civil bill, creating in place of the present office a National Standardizing Bureau. According to the amendment the functions of the bureau shall consist in the custody of the standards; the comparison of the standards used in scientific investigations, engineering, manufacturing, commerce and educational institutions with the standards adopted or recognized by the Government; the construction when necessary of standards, their multiples and subdivisions; the testing and calibration of standard measuring apparatus; the solution of problems which arise in connection with standards; the determination of physical constants and the properties of materials when such data are of great importance to scientific or manufacturing interests and are not to be obtained of sufficient accuracy elsewhere. Provision is also made for the erection of a laboratory and its equipment, and for the employment of an adequate staff, with a director, whose salary shall be $6,000 per annum.


It is satisfactory that the Secretary of the Treasury should recommend a reasonable salary for the director of the proposed bureau. Men of science are, as a rule, but poorly paid, and the officers in the scientific departments of the Government receive in many cases salaries that are a small part of what they could earn as physicians or lawyers. There is, of course, danger that if salaries are large, the offices will be sought by 'practical* politicians, and it is probably the part of wisdom to offer the best facilities for research rather than large salaries. Still, if the scientific man has the salary of a clerk, he will be ranked in the same class by legislators and ex-