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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/569

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

only poking fun at simple scientific folks. The outcome of the two addresses, clearly indicated in the one subtly implied in the other, is that our science having failed, we might as well accept the doctrines of the established church.

Mr. Balfour's address will be read with interest by all. The more difficult but very able address of Professor Lamb, also published in this number of The Popular Science Monthly, should, however, be read in connection with it. As Professor Lamb tells us, science is justified by its results; we trust it because it honors our checks.

 

THE WORK OF THE SECTIONS.

The British Association is divided into ten sections, which are at times subdivided. There were for example this year subsections for cosmical physics and for agriculture. The range of the British Association is somewhat wider than that of the American Association. Our association has recently established a section for experimental medicine, but this has not been active, whereas physiology at the British Association has one of the best sectional programs. We have no section for education and our section for political and social science is not very strong. These two sections are likely to offer papers and discussions that are only on the edge of science, but with the sections of geography and anthropology they give suitable entertainment to the 'general hearer,' whose cooperation in scientific work it should be one of the objects of such an association to secure.

The most interesting part of the program of Section A, and perhaps the most important discussion of the meeting from the scientific point of view, was that on the radio-activity of ordinary matter, in which Professor J. J. Thomson, Lord Kelvin, Lord Rayleigh and Sir Oliver Lodge took part, four physicists whose work can scarcely be paralleled in any other country. Professor Thomson, to whom the new theories in regard to matter are so largely due. described work that had been carried on in his laboratory. It has been found that metals give out radiations peculiar to each metal. This can scarcely be due to the presence of a small quantity of radium as it is constant with different samples of the same metal. Sir Oliver Lodge remarked that on the electric theory of matter all matter ought to be radioactive, and no atom of matter should he regarded as absolutely permanent. Perhaps it would not be going too far to say that the burden of proof rested with those who denied that ordinary matter was radio-active.

Physics is undoubtedly stronger in Great Britain than in the United States, and the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge has through the discoveries of Maxwell, Rayleigh and Thomson become the chief center for physical investigation in the world. It is natural, therefore, that this science should have been well represented at the recent meeting. Dr. Glazebrook, director of the National Physical Laboratory, described its work. He told of the part taken by the British Association in its establishment, described the scientific and technical work in progress and concluded by pleading for a larger measure of support. A table was submitted showing the amount of expenditure on buildings and equipment, and of the annual grant allowed for maintenance in similar institutions in various countries; this clearly demonstrated the unfortunate position in which the laboratory was placed, while the number of tests made and the receipts from applicants contrasted favorably with those of other nationalities.

Among other contributions of special interest was a paper by Professor J. A. Fleming on the propagation of electric waves along spiral wires and on an appliance for measuring the length of waves used in wireless telegraphy,