Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/212

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

benefit of every one employed in the works. This is managed by a board composed of the scientific directors of the different branches of the business, the whole constituting a magnificent monument to German science and cooperation.

If the view that I have taken is correct, the practical question presents itself, what has been done by the colleges and universities in this country to provide for research? I should like to ask all the trustees and governing boards of the institutions of the country the question: Gentlemen, what is your policy—have you any—do you believe in research—if so, what provision have you made for it? Do you believe that you have any duty to the nation in this matter? Who, in your expectation, is to do the amount of research necessary to constitute us a world-power in the intellectual sense? Do you realize that the prosecution of research is a very engrossing pursuit, consuming great amounts of time, and not to be carried on in those leavings of moments when the tried teacher has finished his day's task of instruction? That it is also a very expensive process, requiring elaborate laboratories fitted with the ever-changing apparatus quite distinct from the stereotyped stock in trade necessary for the imparting of first principles to the tyro in science? Of the forty million dollars now spent annually in the United States on colleges and universities, what proportion now goes for the provision for research? This it is impossible to tell, but we find that in comparison with the hundred thousand students in our colleges there are only seven thousand graduate students. Of these by far the greater proportion are not to be counted in the research class, but are preparing to be routine teachers of a somewhat superior grade to those who go immediately from undergraduate colleges. These graduate students are largely being taught by professors whose main duties are in undergraduate teaching, and even in our largest and richest institutions the complaint is made that it is impossible for the graduate student to secure any considerable attention from the professor. In many cases expensive laboratories are erected with little or no provision for buying books. I know of but two physical laboratories in this country that have an endowment to be devoted to the fostering of research, the Jefferson Laboratory at Harvard and the Phœnix Laboratories at Columbia.

Fellowships are, to be sure, provided, but not nearly enough. For it is a strange fact that the sons of the rich seldom or never in this country take up learning as a profession, and that most of our serious students have exhausted their means in the four years of college. In a family where there are several children, it is a serious matter to provide a college education for all, to say nothing of the extra three years of graduate work, and the ideas that I have been advocating are so little familiar to the public that many fathers do not understand