Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/485

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nized outside the ranks of specialists. It is but now that our opportunities for education and research begin to equal those of Germany, and twenty years must be allowed before the harvest can be gathered, and a still longer period before its quality and quantity can be established.

A careful estimate of America's position in the scientific world must consider the different kinds of scientific work. In the applications of science we probably lead. We have had and have great inventors, and in the progress of engineering, manufactures, agriculture, etc., where the individual is often unrecognized, we are contributing more than our share. If further we divide the pure sciences into nine groups—mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology, zoology, physiology, botany and anthropology-psychology—the United States would be doing its share if it excelled in one science. We are clearly inferior to several nations in mathematics, physics, chemistry and physiology; we are inferior in reputation, but not obviously so in performance, in zoology, botany and anthropology-psychology; we are probably doing work of greater volume and value than any other nation in astronomy and in geology.


Professor Newcomb's article in the February number of the North American Review points out how much more highly scientific men and scientific academies are honored abroad than in this country. In the European capitals national leadership of every kind is united in a homogeneous mass. The men of science and of letters associate with the political leaders. Scientific eminence leads to social recognition and political preferment, while those having wealth and leisure engage in scientific research. The national academies are practically parts of the government. In America great endowments are given to universities, but the personality of the professor is ignored; the government makes large appropriations for the scientific bureaus, but scarcely recognizes the National Academy composed of our most eminent scientific men. Professor Newcomb hopes that the Carnegie Institution may attract to Washington men of world-wide reputation and strong personality, who will introduce an academic element into the political atmosphere of the capital.

The extent to which scientific work has been discouraged in America by lack of social recognition is difficult to determine. Greater honor for intellectual distinction might attract young men to a scientific career, whereas worship of wealth may direct too much of the activity of the country to commerce. But the fact that conditions in America differ from those in European nations and that conditions in the twentieth century differ from those in the nineteenth, does not of necessity indicate a retrograde movement. Aristocracies of wealth leisure and culture have undoubtedly been favorable to science, literature and art; but it may be our part to prove that under existing conditions a democracy is still more favorable. The era of the amateur scientist is passing; science must now be advanced by the professional expert. The student of science should be accorded an income commensurate with his services, but the routine of social functions in foreign capitals can scarcely be regarded as favorable to scientific research. Darwin's ill-health and enforced isolation in the country enabled him to do the work he did, whereas social engagements did not improve Huxley's purely scientific work. The lack of a hereditary aristocracy and of a single national social center may not in the end be hurtful to science. If the scientific man is consulted as an expert and his advice is followed, he may be willing to forego invitations to dinner and the patronage of society. Members of the cabinet and