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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/387

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383
THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

of which shall be "the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States. The means to that end will include research, publication, education, the establishment and maintenance of charitable and beneficial activities, agencies and institutions, and the aid of any such activities, agencies and institutions already established." The original trustees are: Robert W. De Forest, Cleveland H. Dodge, Daniel C. Gilman, John M. Glenn, Miss Helen Gould, Mrs. William B. Rice, Miss Louisa L. Schuyler and Mrs. Sage.

This foundation represents a movement that is likely to become dominant in the twentieth century. The future of the race depends largely upon whether what Dr. Galton has named 'eugenics' can be made a science and applied for our welfare. We trust that the income will not be used mainly to establish or assist charitable institutions, but rather for the purposes first stated above—research, publication and education. The difficulties are undoubtedly very great, and the first step must probably be to train those competent to deal with the complex conditions. But increased interest in the scientific aspects of the problems is full of promise for the future.

 

THE PROBLEMS OF ASTRONOMY

At the eighth annual meeting of the Astronomical and Astrophysical Society of America, held December 27 to 29, 1906, at Columbia University, New York, Professor E. C. Pickering, director of the Harvard College Observatory, on taking the chair, discussed three lines of work which he believed the society should pursue. According to the report of the editor, Professor Harold Jacoby, these are: First, by cooperation to carry out some great routine investigation too extensive to be undertaken by a single observatory. The best example of this was the accurate determination of the positions of the northern stars by European and American observatories, under the direction of the Astronomische Gesellschaft. Second, to bring together socially astronomers from all parts of the country, especially the older and younger men. The latter may think the work of the older men out of date, but they may find the experience of the older men and their personal acquaintance with the eminent men of still earlier date of great assistance. The older men have much to learn regarding new methods, and the extensive appliances at their command may often be employed to much greater advantage if they keep themselves personally in touch with the most recent developments of astronomical research. Third, the presentation of papers. While hitherto this has been the principal function of this and other societies it is not necessarily the most valuable. General discussions are more interesting and instructive than long technical papers. It may, therefore, be wise to follow the example of some of the engineering societies, and print abstracts of papers for distribution some days before the meeting. A brief statement is made by the author of each paper, and the greater portion of the time is devoted to discussion. The ideal conditions for meetings of the society would seem to be—a large hotel where all would eat and sleep under the same roof, and where the meetings could be held in the same building.

On the afternoon of December 28 a general discussion took place regarding neglected fields of work in astronomy, in which a large number of members took part, and the views expressed were varied and interesting. The president, in opening the discussion, cited a number of examples of fields of work, which seemed to him important but neglected, For example, in the astronomy of position the formation of a standard catalogue of stars uniformly distributed, having similar spectra, and of nearly the same magnitude. Many trouble-