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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/574

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

given three years ago by Virchow in London. The issues for July and August of last year contain a paper by him on the 'Peopling of the Philippines,' translated from the Proceedings of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. A recent portrait of Virchow is given above as a frontispiece. An earlier portrait and an account of his life will be found in the number of The Popular Science Monthly for October, 1882.

 

SCIENTIFIC EMINENCE.

The death of Virchow, following the deaths of Pasteur, Helmholtz and Darwin, seems to leave the world without men of science as great as those it has lost. Great Britain, in the establishment of its new order of merit, has selected Lord Kelvin, Lord Lister, Lord Rayleigh and Sir William Huggins as the four students of science to be honored. In addition to Mr. Herbert Spencer, whose claims for recognition are somewhat different, Sir Joseph Hooker and Sir William Stokes may be placed in this group. When, on the occasion of Virchow's eightieth birthday last year, Lord Lister brought greetings from Great Britain, he was the only man whose work could be placed beside Virchow's; but while his method of antiseptic treatment in surgery has been one of the greatest advances in medicine, it is in some respects an isolated discovery, and can scarcely claim equality with the immense work accomplished by Virchow and Pasteur. Lord Kelvin is the only living physicist who might be ranked with Helmholtz. Darwin has no peer.

Although Germany has a larger number of scientific workers than Great Britain, it is not certain that it now has more men of exceptional eminence. Professor Haeckel has a worldwide reputation, but would perhaps be ranked less highly by the expert than by the general public. Professor Röntgen's name is known everywhere for one striking discovery, as are also Professor Weismann's for a theory around which much discussion has collected, and Dr. Koch's, less for his real work than for sensational expectations. But it may be doubted whether the leading German men of science are known to the general public or even to those in other departments of science. They would include Klein in mathematics, Struve in astronomy, Boltzmann in physics, Ostwald in chemistry, Suess in geology, Koelliker and Gegenbaur in anatomy, Pflüger in physiology, Strasburger in botany and Wundt in psychology. These, and others who might be named with equal justice, form an important group, and several of them are still in the prime of ljfe. It is doubtful, however, whether any of them will attain the eminence of Helmholtz and Virchow.

A similar list for France would include the names of Hermite and Poincare in mathematics, Loewy in astronomy, Cornu in physics, Berthelot and Moissan in chemistry, Gaudry in geology and van Tieghem in botany. No other European nation ranks with Great Britain, Germany and France. Russia has Mendeléef in chemistry, Kovalevskij in zoology and Karpinskij in geology; Italy has Cremona in mathematics, Righi in physics and Mosso in physiology; and there are of course many other notable men in these and in other countries.

It is obviously difficult to compare our own eminent men with those of other nations. Among those who have an international reputation are Newcomb, Hall and Hill in astronomy, Willard Gibbs in theoretical physics, Michelson in experimental physics, Wolcott Gibbs in chemistry, Gilbert in geology, Agassiz in zoology, Farlow in botany, Welch in pathology and James in psychology.

Eminence is relative, and as scientific work becomes more widespread and special it may be that men of equal ability will no longer become as eminent as might have been the case