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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/498

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

small thing to present a paper in a section where so many famous men sat as could be seen in section A at almost any time of its sitting. And it is no small credit to British men of science that this great gathering is preserved from year to year in undiminished enthusiasm.

Is it possible to make of the American Association such a gathering, or rather to restore to it its representative character? May we expect to gather to it the well-known men of science, the ambitious students and the scientific public?

Many things make against such a result in America which are here favorable to it. The small distances to be traveled in Great Britain make it easy and cheap for any member to come to the meetings. Again the British Association flourishes and gains its influence in the midst of a social régime entirely differnt from that which holds in our country. But in addition to all this are the differences in scientific training which prompt the American investigator, whether in pure or applied science, to prefer the society of his fellow experts to any gathering of a general character however attractive it may be by reason of the presence of scientific, political or social celebrities. That which makes the success of the British Association possible is at once the weakness as well as the strength of British science, and the influences which make these meetings what they are are intimately connected with the educational and social conditions which exist in England.

But if there is anything which would bring back once more to the American Association its old-time prestige and its old-time influence, it would be some such devotion to the cause, which the association represents, as has been shown by many of the leading men of science in England. Of all this group perhaps no other one has done so much as Lord Kelvin. For half a century this splendid old man (loved no less for his sweetness than honored for his genius) has been a prominent figure at these annual gatherings. Year after year he has not only presented his own brilliant contributions and taken his part in the discussions, but there has scarcely been presented in all these years, in the subjects in which he stands preeminent, a worthy paper by a struggling younger man whom this Nestor of British science has not encouraged by his words of praise or of friendly advice given in the most kindly and helpful spirit. The example and influence of such a man are beyond praise, and however we may criticize English science, and English methods of education, we may well hope to learn of her many things so long as she produces men like Kelvin. If anything can make of the American Association a new center of inspiration for younger men, a fresh source of popular education, a means of closer union of our scientific interests, it will come only as the result of some such unselfish service as Kelvin's on the part of the best known men of science in America.