Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/293

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the best institutions of the land. It appears that no other observatory in the world has the expenditure of so much money, but also that its results are not commensurate with those of some other observatories the expenditures of which are less. Its head should of course be the best astronomer, who has proper administrative qualifications, that can be found in the country. It is especially desirable that he should have continuity of tenure, as the observatory has undoubtedly suffered from frequent changes in its superintendents.

"While the average term of service of superintendents at Greenwich has been twenty-eight years and at Harvard fifteen, at the Naval Observatory it has been only a little over three. I urgently recommend that the legislation of the last Congress to the effect 'that the superintendent of the Naval Observatory shall be, until further legislation by Congress, a line officer of the navy of a rank not below that of captain,' be repealed, and that on the contrary it be enacted that there shall be no limitation upon the field from which the superintendent is to be selected. As well might the above quoted statute have provided that the commissioner of fish and fisheries should be selected from the line of the marine corps, or the director of the Geological Survey from the line of the army.

"There is no vital relation between the navy and the observatory. It may happen that some naval officer is preeminently qualified for such a place, in which case he would be appointed to it, but the country is entitled to have unlimited range of selection. The present limitation, which shuts out the whole body of civilian astronomers and even any astronomer in the navy who does not happen to be in the line, or, if in the line, below the rank of captain, is peculiar. Only a very small proportion of naval officers are not below the rank of captain, and as most of them are required for naval services—a requirement which is now increasing—the list from which selection can be made is a noticeably small one. It is evident, too, from the wording of the above quotation from the statute, that Congress in passing it had in mind further legislation in this respect."


The report of the Secretary of Agriculture for the past year shows that progress has been made in strengthening the organization of the National Department of Agriculture, and in increasing the breadth and efficiency of its scientific work. Four bureaus have been organized for the purpose of bringing together more closely the allied lines of work and providing for the expansion which has been authorized by Congress in other lines. These are the Bureaus of Plant Industry, of Soils, of Forestry and of Chemistry. The Bureau of Plant Industry, the creation of which has involved the most reorganization of any of the new bureaus, combines under one head the work in nine different branches, each presided over by an expert, and with a corps of more than two hundred efficient workers. The unification of work and the closer cooperation which have resulted, together with the economy of time in administration, lead the secretary to recommend a further extension of the bureau system in the department. He announces that preliminary plans have been procured for a new agricultural building, providing facilities for bringing together all the administrative and laboratory work in the various lines under one roof.

The report shows that the department has been alert in its efforts to extend the markets for our agricultural products abroad, and no less so in seeking to bring about the production in this country and its new possessions of a large part of the $400,000,000 worth