Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/276

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
272
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

do, and thus put an end to everything like narrowness or selfishness in one's own work. The academy, as has already been seen, had begun to act, as it has continued to do, as a mediator between the government, which has the funds for important enterprises, and the men who, though poor, have the ability successfully to carry them out. Hence it is that for a quarter of a century at least the academy has been able to direct most of the great scientific enterprises of Germany and has given impulse and needed assistance to private efforts in narrow and limited, yet important fields of research. The income, which increases nearly every year with gifts by will and from people interested in its work, in 1900 amounted to 213,462 Marks, a little more than $53,000. The income had averaged from 1897 to 1900 136,462 Marks, or a little more than $39,000. Since May, 1898, one third of the interest of the Frau Maria Elizabeth Wentzel-Heckmann foundation, or of a capital of 1,500,000 Marks, has been available for scientific enterprises of the first magnitude. At the death of Frau Heckmann the interest of the entire sum will be available for the spread of scientific knowledge. It is stipulated that the income shall not be limited to a single field. While the academy may suggest the field to which the money shall be given, its final disposal is in the hands of a commission composed of the cultus minister and six persons, three of whom are to be chosen by the academy every five years. Thus far the gift has furnished means for a dictionary of the German law language, justified the academy in beginning the publication of an edition of the oldest Greek writers, which will embrace not less than fifty volumes, and provided for the equipment of an expedition to German East Africa for the study of natural history. A good deal of money is expended every year for prizes, although these are less favored than formerly, and an increasing amount in aiding individuals in special work of importance.

Changes in some of the statutes of the academy were adopted on March 2, 1881, by which its efficiency has been very much increased. The number of general meetings was reduced one half and those of the classes and their sections increased one half. The number of active members was put at 54, 27 for each class. The foreign members were reduced from 16 to 10 for each class, and since 1882 reports, formerly published every month, are now published weekly. These reports are of the highest value and are indispensable to those who would keep abreast of the advance made by Germany in scientific, historical or philosophical studies. Active members are paid 900 Marks ($225) a year, and are expected to attend all the sessions of the academy and to undertake any work which the members of their class may lay upon them. Secretaries are paid twice as much and persons employed for a longer or shorter time for special service are paid as the academy may direct. The chemist, the botanist and the geologist receive a salary which will enable them to live in Berlin.