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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/376

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372
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

FOREIGN ASSOCIATES OF NATIONAL SOCIETIES
By Professor EDWARD C. PICKERING

HARVARD COLLEGE OBSERVATORY

MEMBERSHIP in societies is, in general, a poor test of the qualifications of a scientific man. The case is very different, however, if we consider only the foreign associates of the principal national societies or academies of the world. Their organization differs in different cases, but, in general, each is divided into several sections, of which that relating to the physical and natural sciences will alone be considered here. The members are divided into two or more classes which are called by various names. First, resident members, who live in the vicinity, pay fees and practically own the society. Secondly, foreign associates, who, as they have few duties or rights, and as the position is a purely honorary one, are selected wholly for eminence in a particular science. Their number is generally limited and on the death of one, a typical method of selecting a successor would be as follows: The matter would first be referred to a committee of resident members in the same department of science. These specialists would report one or more candidates, and the final selection would be made by the entire body of resident members. Doubtless injustice may be done in individual cases, but it is hardly possible that an unworthy person could secure membership in many foreign countries. It is sometimes stated by those unfamiliar with the facts, that a candidate can not be elected without personal effort on his own part. This is incorrect, as to my personal knowledge in at least half a dozen cases the notice of his election was the first intimation a candidiate had that his name was under consideration. It is possible that, in some cases, a candidate may have aided his election, but it would be a dangerous experiment, as many persons would vote against him for this reason only.

Ten countries, not including colonies, have a population of more than twenty millions: China, 432,000,000; Russia, 146,800,000; United States, 86,400,000; German Empire, 60,600,000; Japan, 49,700,000; Austro-Hungarian Empire, 47,000,000; Great Britain, 41,500,000; France, 39,000,000; Italy, 32,500,000; Congo Free State, 30,000,000. The population of Brazil is 19,900,000; of Spain, 18,900,000; of Mexico, 13,600,000. Omitting these, and China, Japan and the Congo Free State, we have the seven great nations of the world. The national or principal scientific societies of each of these countries is