Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/105

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



The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the national scientific societies affiliated with it meet at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, during the week beginning on December 27. In view of the scientific attractions of Philadelphia and its central situation for those living on the Atlantic seaboard, with convenient access for those living further west, the meeting is sure to be of outstanding importance. This has been the case with the previous Philadelphia meetings. The association was organized there in 1848. After an interval of 36 years the second Philadelphia meeting had a registration of 1,261, the largest up to that time and until very recently. Like the first meeting it marked an epoch in scientific organization in America. Until 1882 there had been only two sections of the association, one for the exact sciences and one for the natural sciences. But the advance and specialization of science led to the division of the association into sections and the establishment of national societies for the different sciences. The American Society of Naturalists was established in 1883 and as special societies were organized in the natural sciences they met with it in the Christmas holidays. National societies in the physical sciences were also formed and held separate meetings. The parent association was thus somewhat weakened, and the summer meetings attracted an attendance of only about 300.

The situation was met by the establishment of convocation week and the affiliation of the national societies for special sciences with the association. The association has aimed to serve as a center of coordination for the special sciences and the special societies, and to keep scientific men in touch with the larger public, leaving the special programs of technical papers to the separate societies The third Philadelphia meeting and at the same time the third of the convocation week meetings held in the Christmas holidays of 1904 had a registration of 890, but the registration of members of the association no longer represents the magnitude of the meetings, as it includes only a part of those attending the sessions of the special societies. When the association was organized in 1848 its membership was 461, at the second Philadelphia meeting it had increased to 2,000, at the third to 4,000 and it is now after ten years over 8,000.

We may thus expect a large meeting at Philadelphia. But while the size of the meeting is the fact easiest to give numerically, it clearly is not the one most important. This is the men and the work they do and report. This year the meeting will be presided over by Dr. Charles W. Eliot, president emeritus of Harvard University, education—a section which was established some eight years ago—being thus for the first time recognized officially in the long list of distinguished men who have filled this office. The address by the retiring president, Dr. Edmund B. Wilson, of Columbia University, on "Some Aspects of Progress in Modern Zoology," in which progress he is the most eminent leader. The evening addresses arranged for citizens of the city are "On the Science of Musical Sounds," by Dr. Dayton C. Miller, of the Case School of Applied Science, and on "The War and the Chemical Industry," by Dr. William H. Nichols, each the one competent in the country on the subject in which he speaks. The general character of the addresses and papers before the sections can perhaps best be represented by giving the extended