Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 59.djvu/518

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Professor Hyatt, he founded the American Society of Naturalists and has been its president; he was one of the active founders of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Wood's Holl, and it was chiefly through his exertions that the American Society for Physical Research was started. He has been president of the American Morphological Society, and since 1897 president of the Boston Society of Natural History. He is, of course, a member of the National Academy and of many other scientific societies. In 1885 he was general secretary of the American Association and in 1890 vice-president for the section of biology. The Association is fortunate when the country produces for its presidents such men as Professors Woodward and Minot.


The recent congress in London was as much an institution for public education as a scientific meeting. As a rule people do not profit greatly by learning about the diseases to which they are subject, but consumption is an exception. This disease is still regarded by many as hereditary and incurable; its existence is consequently ignored and concealed, and becomes a source of danger to others. But consumption is a curable and especially a preventable disease. Post-mortem examinations of those dying by accident show that about one-half of all people living in cities have had tuberculosis of the lungs, usually of course without knowing it. The disease has been cured without precautions and under unhygienic conditions. When detected in time, tuberculosis is not only curable, but is one of the most easily cured of chronic diseases. It has been decreased by one-half in Great Britain by improved sanitary conditions; it has within a few years been decreased by one-third in New York City as the result of municipal control. The disease is chiefly spread by the tubercle germs in the sputum carelessly scattered abroad, and chiefly favored by general insanitary conditions. It is consequently a matter of great concern, both to those who suffer from consumption and to those brought in contact with them,—and practically every one belongs to one of these clases—that the public should be educated to understand and support the measures required to combat the most terrible of all diseases.

If the congress in London accomplished more for the education of the laity than for the increase of knowledge, this is not to be regretted. The reception of foreign delegates, their presentation to the king and elaborate entertainment, led to the wide reporting of the proceedings in the press, and many of the papers were intended for the general public rather than for the specialist. Professor Koch's admirable address, which is published in this issue of the Monthly, can be read with interest and profit by any one, though it contains the announcement of important scientific research. Professor Koch's claim that the bovine tubercle cannot develop in the human body naturally attracted much attention, as it is obviously a matter of great practical importance. Lord Kelvin, Professor Virchow and other authorities, however, do not regard Professor Koch's experiments and observations as conclusive. Attention does not seem to have been called at the congress to the important experiments of Dr. Theobald Smith, of Harvard University, published some three years ago in 'The Journal of Experimental Medicine.' These demonstrate the difference between the human and bovine tubercle bacilli.


The first brilliant comet of the century has come and gone. Although at one time so bright that it was visible in daylight, it was seen by few persons and at but two northern observatories. It was discovered, April 24, by Mr.