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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/209

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE WASHINGTON MEETING OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE

The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the societies affiliated with it held an unusually successful meeting in Washington during Christmas week. This, the sixty-third meeting of the association, was the largest in its history, the registration of its members being 1,306. There is no practical advantage in registering and at Washington the places of meeting were so widely scattered that many members failed to register. The secretary of the council estimates the total attendance of members of the association and of affiliated societies at 2,800. The association had the privilege of being welcomed to the capital of the nation by its president, who in his address exhibited an appreciative interest in the scientific work done under the government and in the investigations of scientific men. He said that if he had the power he would place an astronomer at the head of the U. S. Naval Observatory. President Taft must have paid what he regarded as a high compliment to the work of a scientific man when he compared it with that of a judge. Indeed he placed the work of the bench even higher than might have been expected, for he said that it is the duty of a judge to find a final solution in accordance with "eternal justice," whereas it is commonly supposed that a judge must interpret temporary laws. Dr. Charles E. Bessey, head of the department of botany at the University of Nebraska, president of the association, in reply to the address of welcome, called attention to the fact that scientific men are like those who occupy legislative, judicial and executive positions, in that they work for the good of the community rather than for their own advancement; but whereas the politician works only in the present and for the present, the scientific man, like the statesman, must look before and after. Dr. Bessey also called attention to the need of giving scientific men in the Washington bureaus the opportunities most favorable to scientific research. The annual address was then delivered by President A. A. Michelson, head of the department of physics in the University of Chicago, whose subject was "Recent Progress in Spectroscopic Methods." Dr. Michelson traced with such clearness as to hold the complete attention of the audience the important researches in which he himself has taken such a leading part.

It is quite out of the question to describe the work of the eleven sections of the association and of the thirty special societies which met at Washington. The titles of the papers presented would fill a considerable part of an issue of the Monthly, and the papers themselves would fill its volumes for years to come. The addresses of the president and of the vice-presidents have been printed in Science, where also will be found accounts of the proceedings of the association and of the various societies and some of the addresses and discussions presented before them. Here we can only call attention to the wide scope and great quantity of research work being carried forward in this country and adequately represented at the Washington meeting. The only drawback to our satisfaction is that there appear to be no advances or discoveries of such outstanding importance as to deserve special recognition.