Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/387

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One of the most noteworthy events in the history of science was the bequest of James Smithson, an Englishman dying in Italy, in 1829, of about §500,000 to found at Washington 'an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.' Equally important is the gift of Mr. Andrew Carnegie of $10,000,000 to establish in Washington an institution for the encouragement of 'investigation, research and discovery.' These two foundations represent more than an addition to the sum annually spent on scientific work. They stand for the spirit of science, not confined by place or buildings, titles or degrees. In foreign countries we are often called worshipers of wealth and ostentation; in reply we need only point to the Smithsonian and Carnegie institutions, situated in the national capital, but extending throughout the country and beyond, quietly and powerfully representing the highest ideals of knowledge and research.

The Smithsonian Institution under Henry and Baird fostered science in many directions, having been more or less a factor in the establishment of the National Library, the Weather Bureau, the Geological and Coast Surveys and the Fish Commission. It still has under its charge the National Museum, the Bureau of American Ethnology and the Zoological Park. The Carnegie Institution with twenty times the resources of the Smithsonian will henceforth be a great influence for the advancement of knowledge. The founder states that the primary object is the promotion of research, and specifies several directions in which work w-ill be undertaken. The Institution will probably supersede the Washington Memorial Institution in the function of utilizing for advanced work the resources of the government at Washington and elsewhere. It will also aim to increase the efficiency of universities and other institutions by providing funds for investigations and for fellowships. It will assist in the publication of scientific work. It may give salaries and pensions to permit the continuous prosecution of research. Mr. Carnegie shows much insight in particularly specifying as one of its objects 'to discover the exceptional man in every department of study, whenever and wherever found, and enable him by financial aid to make the work for which he seems specially designed, his life work.'

This is, indeed, the great need of science—to find the men. Given the man and there is no danger but that the research, the discovery and the publication will follow. What is essential is to secure for research the men best fitted for it. Good men are needed for all kinds of useful work; but on the whole the business man, the lawyer or the physician is less likely to contribute to the general welfare than the investigator. But the investigator is exactly the man whose profession is most insecure. He never depends on his scientific work for his support; 'he must earn his living by teaching, by administrative work or the like. A good novel or a good picture has market value, a good research has none. The author is not only unpaid, but is fortunate if his paper or book can be properly published without expense to himself.

The number and quality of men engaged in scientific work can apparently