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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/483

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

and garden parties. Special services were held in the Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic churches, and the University of Dublin conferred honorary degrees on a number of the distinguished visitors.

The large annual membership of the association and the comparatively large fee enable it to make liberal grants for scientific research, amounting this year to about $7,000. Among the grants of $250 or more were the following: Professor H. H. Turner, for seismological observations; Sir David Gill, towards building a solar observatory in Australia; Sir W. H. Preece, for the study of gaseous explosions; Professor J. Joly, for geological investigations at Briske, and Mr. D. G. Hogarth, for archeological explorations in Crete.

Dr. J. J. Thomson, Cavendish professor of experimental physics at Cambridge and eminent for his research work concerned with the X-rays, radium and the breaking up of the atom, was elected president for the meeting to be held next year at Winnipeg, beginning on August 25. Members of the American Association are invited to attend this meeting, and those who are able to be present are certain to enjoy unusual pleasure and profit.

 

THE PRESENT PANDEMIC OF PLAGUE

The bulletin with this title prepared by Assistant Surgeon General, J. M. Eager, and issued by the Public Health and Marine Hospital Service, exhibits in a bald way the relentless forward march of the bubonic plague, a circumstance more terrible and dramatic perhaps than anything else in contemporary history. Emerging from the obscure endemic focus in the province of Yunnan, China, in the year 1894, the plague appeared in Canton, and there were a hundred thousand deaths between March and August. The disease spread to Hong Kong and in 1896 to Bombay, there being some two thousand deaths in the presidency. In 1897 there were over 55,000 deaths in India, including nearly 10,000 in the city of Bombay, with sporadic cases in Japan and Turkey. In 1898 there were 117,000 deaths in India, and extending far from its endemic home, there were cases in Madagascar and Mauritius. In 1899 there were 135,000 deaths in India and serious epidemics in China. Cases occurred in Egypt and the Hawaiian Islands, and South America was invaded. There were local epidemics in Portugal and Russia. In 1900 there was a diminution in India, the deaths falling to 92,000, but the disease invaded San Francisco and was present, and remains present, in every quarter of the world, Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceanica, North and South America. In 1901 the hope of relief in India was disappointed, the deaths rising to 278,000, and in 1902 to 575,000. They increased further to 835,000 in 1903, and to the neighborhood of one million in 1904 and 1905, falling in 1906 to 332,000, but rising again last year to the appalling record of 1,400,000 cases and 1,200,000 deaths. The plague was present in all quarters of the world, there being 156 cases and 76 deaths in San Francisco, and cases in the suburbs and in Seattle.

If it were not for the great advance of modern medicine western civilization would be threatened with a disaster unparalleled since the middle ages. But the means by which the plague is transmitted have been discovered—we can exterminate fleas and rats if necessary—and, thanks to the labors of scientific and medical men, not a few of whom have sacrificed their lives, we are comparatively secure. But protective measures and more knowledge are needed here and in many directions, and the governments of the world should spend not less care and money on them than on their armaments.