Popular Science Monthly/Volume 62/April 1903/The Progress of Science



Scientific medicine in the United States is to be congratulated on the establishment of a laboratory for research that may be compared with those of the great European capitals. There are in this country more than a hundred thousand practising physicians, somewhat over two hundred medical journals and a large number of medical schools, and many important advances in technical medicine are due to American practise. Opportunity for systematic research has, however, been hitherto lacking. This will be supplied by the laboratory to be built in New York City on the foundation of Mr. John D. Rockefeller. It will be remembered that two years ago Mr. Rockefeller gave $200,000 for the establishment of an institute for medical research and placed the endowment in the hands of a strong and compact board of directors, consisting of Dr. William H. Welch, Baltimore; Dr. T. Mitchell Prudden, New York; Dr. Theobald Smith, Boston; Dr. Simon Flexner, Philadelphia; Dr. Hermann M. Biggs, New York; Dr. C. A. Herter, New York; Dr. L. Emmett Holt, New York.

The fund could be used for current expenses, and with it grants have been made, varying in amount from $200 to $1,500, to over twenty investigators who have carried forward their work at American and foreign universities. The directors, however, believed that, in addition to such individual studies, there was needed a central institution for certain lines of research with an adequate equipment and permanent endowment. Towards this purpose Mr. Rockefeller has given $1,000,000, which will be used for the purchase of land, the erection of buildings and the organization of the work, and it is understood that Mr. Rockefeller is prepared to give an additional endowment when needed. A site has been secured in New York City overlooking the East river, and it is hoped that the laboratory will be completed and ready for the commencement of work in the autumn of 1904. The buildings will include a small hospital which will be maintained in close association with the experimental work. The institute has assumed the publication of The Journal of Experimental Medicine, which will remain under the editorial supervision of Dr. W. H. Welch, professor of pathology in the Johns Hopkins University and president of the board of directors of the institute. The directors will also undertake the diffusion of knowledge by the means of lectures, publications and hygienic museums that will tend to the prevention and cure of disease. Dr. Simon Flexner, professor of pathology in the University of Pennsylvania, has been appointed scientific director of the laboratories, and there will be associated with him the heads of the different departments that will be established.


The board of regents of the Smithsonian Institution held an adjourned meeting on March 12, at which matters of much importance for the institution and for the progress of science in America were discussed. It was decided that in addition to the annual meeting in January for the transaction of routine business, there shall hereafter be held two additional meetings, one in December and one in March, when the affairs of the institution maybe discussed fully and freely. A committee that had been appointed to consider the powers and duties of the executive committee did not make a final report, but it was the general opinion that this committee should have regular and stated meetings. Dr. A. Graham Bell introduced a series of resolutions and moved that they be referred to the committee appointed to consider the powers of the executive committee. They will be reported on and fully discussed at the meeting in December. The resolutions are as follows:

The secretary shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the board of regents, shall appoint the heads of the various bureaus supported by congress under the direction of the Smithsonian Institution to wit the National Museum, the Bureau of American Ethnology, The National Zoological Park, the Bureau of International Exchanges, and the Astrophysical Observatory.

The secretary shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen in these offices during the intervals between meetings of the board, by granting commissions which shall expire at the next meeting of the board of regents.

The head of each bureau shall nominate, and, by and with the advice and consent of the secretary, shall appoint the subordinates in the bureau under his charge.

The heads of the bureaus shall be termed directors; and the board of regents hereby creates the offices of director of the National Museum, director of the Bureau of American Ethnology, director of the National Zoological Park, director of the Bureau of International Exchanges, and director of the Astrophysical Observatory, and instructs the secretary to fill these offices by temporary appointment to expire at the next meeting of the board, when nominations shall be presented for confirmation by the board.

It will thus be seen that the entire question of the organization of the Smithsonian Institution and its relations to the government bureaus is under consideration by the regents. At the meeting two other matters of general interest were discussed. Congress has made an appropriation of three and a half million dollars foi a new building for the U. S. National Museum, the construction of which has been placed in the hands of Mr. Bernard R. Green. The secretary, with the advice and consent of the chancellor and the chairman of the executive committee was designated to cooperate with Mr. Green.

Owing to the need of moving the body of James Smith son from the grave in which it rests at Genoa, it was proposed last year by Dr. Bell that the remains be brought to this country, where congress would doubtless erect over them a suitable monument in the grounds of the Smithsonian Institution. This suggestion was not adopted at the time, but Dr. Bell has now offered to have the remains removed at his expense, which offer the regents will doubtless be glad to accept.


The appropriation for the United States Department of Agriculture provided by the recent session of congress covers a total of practically six million dollars, an increase over that for the current year of $769,140, including an emergency appropriation of a half a million dollars. The increased funds are for the most part to enable an extension of the work of the department along its present lines, rather than to take up new special features. The largest increases are for the Bureaus of Animal Industry, Plant Industry, Forestry and Soils.

The Bureau of Animal Industry receives $1,287,380, an increase of $100,000 for the extension of its meat and other inspection work, and an emergency appropriation of $500,000 is placed at the disposal of the secretary of agriculture to stamp out the foot-and-mouth disease, which has recently raged in several of the New England states, and other contagious diseases of animals which may appear.

The total appropriation for the Bureau of Plant Industry is $674,930, an increase of $62,200 for its work in vegetable pathology and physiology, botanical investigations, studies of the pomaceous fruits and their preservation, and experiments with grasses and forage plants. These increases will enable carrying on the plant breeding work on a somewhat larger scale to secure crops resistant to alkali, disease-resistant beets, and the improvement of Indian corn. More extensive investigations and field trials will be made of the nitrogen-fixing organisms in growing leguminous plants; and among the plant diseases the Texas root-rot of cotton and the California vine disease will receive special attention. The increase for botanical investigations will be used for developing the studies of poisonous plants, particularly on the western ranges. The fund for the purchase of seeds for congressional distribution is increased by $20,000, being now $290,000, but an additional $10,000 is allowed to be expended out of this fund for the introduction of seeds and plants from foreign countries, making the fund for that purpose $30,000.

The amount for the Bureau of Forestry is increased to $350,000, which is $58,140 more than the current appropriation, and will enable an extension of its forestry and timber investigations and the preparation of working plans for owners of woodlands.

The Bureau of Soils receives $212,480, $42,800 more than the present year. The increase will be used in expanding the soil survey and the tobacco work, which is in charge of this bureau. Surveys will be made the coming year in thirty-two states, which shows the wide distribution of this work. The tobacco investigations will be confined principally to experiments with the Cuban filler tobacco in Alabama, middle South Carolina, and eastern Texas, where soils have been located similar to those on which it is successfully grown.

The scientific staff of the Weather Bureau is increased somewhat, an assistant chief being added, and the bureau is authorized to erect five new observatories and to establish cable communication between Block Island and Narragansett Pier, with terminal buildings and equipment at each place. Its total appropriation amounts to $1,248,520.

The appropriations for the experiment stations in Hawaii and Porto Rico are increased to $15,000, making them uniform with the stations in other states and territories, and $5,000 is appropriated for taking up the farmers' institute work with a view to assisting the organizations in the different states and territories and making them more effective means for the dissemination of the results obtained at the department and at the agricultural experiment stations. These increases bring the total amount for the agricultural experiment stations and the Office of Experiment Stations (including irrigation investigations and investigation in human nutrition) up to $895,000.

The Division of Statistics is raised to the grade of a bureau and given an increased appropriation of $15,500 for general maintenance, making a total of $156,660.

Other items carried by the act are $85,300 for the Bureau of Chemistry, an increase of $11,600; $77,450 for the Division of Entomology, an increase of $10,000; $51,850 for the Division of Biological Survey, an increase of $6,000; $229,320 for the Division of Publications, $105,000 of which is to be used for the preparation and printing of Farmers' Bulletins; $16,000 for the Division of Foreign Markets; $35,000 for Public Road Inquiries, an increase of $5,000; $20,000 for the Library; and $138,210 for administrative, contingent and general expenses.

The growth of the department is indicated in a general way by the amounts authorized for the rent of office and laboratory buildings. Starting some twelve years ago with an item of $900, the amount authorized for rent of buildings has steadily increased year by year until in the present bill it amounts to $27,500. This shows conclusively the inadequacy of the present buildings, which led the last session of congress to appropriate $1,500,000 for a new agricultural building, plans for which are now in course of preparation.

The agricultural appropriation act does not carry the appropriation for printing the publications of the department, except in the case of the popular series known as 'Farmers' Bulletins.' The department's allotment out of the general printing fund is $185,000, an increase of $10,000, and $300,000 is provided for printing and binding a half million copies of the 'Year-book.' Adding to this the cost of the regular and special reports, which are printed by order of congress, brings the amount for printing the department publications up to approximately three quarters of a million dollars. In the last fiscal year 757 separate publications were issued in an aggregate edition of over ten million copies, some six million of which were 'Farmers' Bulletins.' This is a larger number of separate publications and of total copies than are issued by any other department of the government, and stamps the Department of Agriculture as the greatest agency in the world for the dissemination of popular and technical information on agriculture and agricultural science.


Just one hundred years ago, in 1803, was published the edition of Malthus's 'Essay on Population' which has had a considerable influence on economic theory and aided Darwin in thinking out his principle of the origin of species by natural selection. Malthusianism has become a current word with somewhat sinister implications, quite foreign to the spirit of the kindly clergyman, who announced the theory that population tends to increase more rapidly than the means of subsistence. If this were true population must be limited by moral restraint, vice or misery, and Malthus urged people not to marry until they had a fair prospect of supporting a family. Owing to the applications of science during the past century the means of subsistence in civilized nations have increased far more rapidly than the population. Malthus's proposition has become inverted; the production of goods increases in geometrical ratio, whereas the production of people occurs with an ever decreasing increment. It is no longer an economic question of starvation, but a sociological question of race suicide.

The subject has during the past month become prominent in newspaper discussions owing to statements made by the president of the United States and by the president of Harvard University. President Eliot has shown that graduates of Harvard do not reproduce themselves. Statistics from the colleges for women have also been compiled which prove that the graduates are not self-perpetuating. From the point of view of social evolution there would be certain advantages in the need of recruiting the ruling classes from a larger group, as this would give room for natural selection. As a matter of fact President Eliot's conclusions are contradicted by the only large study of the subject at hand, that by Rubin and Westergaard of Copenhagen marriages. It appears from some thousands of cases that while the birth rate is slightly smaller for the professional and upper classes than for artisans, the average number of surviving children is greater for the former, being about 3.31 as compared with 3.14. It may be that Harvard graduates have as large surviving families as those of the same race, but of lower social class.

It is unfortunate that statistics are not at hand on the marriage rate and birth rate in relation to the conditions on which they depend. The questions involved are of the utmost practical importance and should be taken up at once by the national and state governments. The birth rate in France where the population is stationary, is about 22 per thousand. In Great Britain it is 29, in Germany 35 and in Russia 52.

PSM V62 D574 Statistical curves charting the fertility rate of anglo saxons and danes.png

In Massachusetts the birth rate was last year 25.07 and the marriage rate 8.67. Even if all illegitimate children are attributed to the married, the average size of family would be less than three. The foreign born have a much larger fertility than the natives, and it is quite possible that the New England stock has a mean family of only two, as President Eliot finds to be the case with Harvard graduates. President Eliot appears to be mistaken in attributing the small families of Harvard graduates in part to postponement of marriage due to protracted tion. The age of marriage of men of the upper classes in Copenhagen, with mean families of 4.5 was over 32, whereas it appears that the professional classes in the United States marry at an earlier age than this.

It is surely a serious problem when the more civilized races tend not to reproduce themselves. It is difficult of explanation by the laws of heredity and natural selection. We may assume that in the lower animals the number of offspring is most favorable for the survival of the race. In man there may be a selective death rate tending to reduce large families, but it does not appear to be an important factor. One quarter of the married population produces one half of the next generation, and if fertility is inheritable or correlated with inheritable traits the size of families should increase rapidly. If there were a complete correlation between fertility in mother and daughter, the size of families would be doubled in the fifth generation. It appears that physiological fertility is held in check by prudential restraint, but it is not clear why the psychological factors are not subject to natural selection and social tradition. Those who would have large families should supplant those who would not.

We reproduce from Professor Pearson's 'Chances of Death' two diagrams. The first is based largely on 2,279 marriages of a Connecticut quaker family, to which a skew frequency curve is fitted. The modal family, or most frequent family, falls between two and three; the median family, or the family of such size that there are as many larger as smaller, is 3.29; the mean or average family is 4.22, and the range or maximum family is 22.5. The second curve, for 1842 families of the professional and upper classes in Denmark, shows a somewhat higher fertility. Both curves indicate an artificial limitation in the deficiency, as compared with the theoretical curve, of families of five and six; and this would probably be much more marked in French or in recent Anglo-Saxon families. There is indeed urgent need of further investigation into the facts of the birth rate. Applied science may have at the end of the present century problems more pressing than the increase of the means of subsistence; there must be people to subsist.


The scholars to be appointed under the terms of the will of the late Cecil Rhodes will go into residence at Oxford next year, and the best methods for selecting them are now being considered. The Prussian ministry of education has addressed a letter to the Oxford colleges asking information as to the reception of the fifteen scholars to be nominated by the German emperor. It is assumed that students will go to Oxford direct from the gymnasium, and it is asked whether the Abiturienten-Zeugnis which admits to the German universities will be accepted. Among other things information is wanted as to whether students may pursue studies preparatory to the professions and whether scholars may be appointed for a shorter period than three years.

Dr. Parkin, of the Toronto Grammar School, who was himself a colonial student at Oxford, has been commissioned to secure information for the use of the executors in framing a workable plan for American and colonial students. He has visited Oxford to learn the sentiments of the educational authorities and finds that most of the colleges will be glad to welcome the scholars. He is now in America holding conferences with educators and others, and will proceed to the different British colonies. The chief practical questions seem to concern the methods by which the scholars shall be appointed and the stage in their education at which they shall go to Oxford. The appointing authority is complicated in this country owing to the existence of state and private institutions with no machinery for correlation, and some question has already arisen in one or two of the western states as to the part to be taken by the board of education, the state university and the private institutions. In several conferences that have been held in the East the question has arisen as to whether the boy should go to Oxford to begin his college work or after he has taken his A.B. degree here.

We see no reason why the intentions of Mr. Rhodes should not be followed. These were certainly that the scholars should spend the three years in residence at one of the Oxford colleges preparing for the B.A. degree, and that they should be selected by the schools, not by the universities. Mr. Rhodes proposed that the qualifications should be rated on a scale of ten, one point for leadership in manly outdoor sports and three for qualities of manhood, these to be determined by fellow students, then two points for force of character to be assigned by teachers, and lastly four points for scholarship to be determined by examination. Mr. Rhodes does not seem to have considered the difficulty of comparing the claims of students from different schools, but if a candidate is nominated by each school wishing to do so, the central state authority could give the competitive examination and select the scholar as the result of this and of his school record. It seems proper that Mr. Rhodes's intention should at least be given a trial, even though the presidents of American universities think it better that B.A.'s should be sent to Oxford for research work. There is indeed much to be said for Mr. Rhodes's plan of selecting the scholars and for his intention that they be undergraduates. Oxford is not a particularly good place for graduate work, but its college life has certain admirable aspects not to be found in American or continental institutions. It would not do to educate all American boys by the Oxford method, but much gain will accrue to the educational, political and social life of the country by sending thirty each year thither.

There appears to be some opposition to the Rhodes scholarships. The students of Göttingen are said to have voted not to accept them, and some American newspapers print editorial criticisms not always well informed. The New York Sun, for example, says 'The Rhodes bequest was based upon a flagrant misconception of facts, and inspired by an ill-considered purpose.' This opposition seems to be based on the assumption that Harvard and Berlin are better universities than Oxford, and that the student will be anglicized to the advantage of Great Britain. Harvard and Berlin are of course better universities than Oxford, but the Oxford College is sui generis, and its influence on the students is great and on the whole beneficial. It would doubtless be an excellent economic investment for Great Britain to send one hundred students to study at Berlin and Harvard, and it certainly seems to be an advantage for the United States to send one hundred students to Oxford to be educated at the cost of Great Britain.


The issue of The Popular Science Monthly for October, which contained an article by Dr. F. A. Woods reviewing heredity in the Romanofs prior to 1762, was censured by the Russian government in a curious manner. The leaves containing the article were cut out from the number and the title on the table of contents was so inked that it could not be read. This seems to show a considerable degree of conscientiousness on the part of the censor, as it would have been easier and less exciting to the curiosity of subscribers to have simply destroyed the numbers. The incident recalls, however, the intolerable state of affairs to which the Russian press and people must submit. Russian newspapers are of two classes, censored and uncensored. The former must show everything that is printed to a local censor beforehand, the latter are subject to the minister of the interior, who suppresses or punishes them as he sees fit. It is said that the conditions are not quite so bad as they were, but a 'confidential' letter of instructions sent to the uncensored papers from the ministry of the interior on the twenty-second of last July gives striking information as to the limitation imposed on freedom of speech. Among the large number of subjects regarding which it is forbidden to publish news or criticism we quote the following coming within the scope of this journal:

Information and articles concerning disorders in the higher educational establishments, whether secular or clerical, and disciplinary punishments inflicted on those taking part in such disorders, . . . and, in general, all news relating to the internal life of these institutions, except when the competent educational authority has consented to Buch publication.

Information concerning disorders, in our factories and industrial works, or any other breaches of public order and tranquility, except when permission for publication has been given by the higher police authorities.

Information concerning the appearance of epidemic diseases among the population, or the spread of the plague in Russia and the adjacent countries, except when permission for publication has been given by the medical department of the Ministry of the Interior.

Historical and critical disquisitions, articles and documents, printed in specialist or strictly scientific journals or other works, in cases where such articles, etc., serve an exclusively scientific purpose, and where, by reason of their contents, their distribution among a wide circle of readers might lead to undesirable results.

We shall look forward with interest to learn whether the censor discovers this note and cuts it out of the copies of the Monthly going to subscribers in Russia.


Professor W. G. Brown, of the University of Missouri, brought to the attention of the Chemical Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at the recent Washington meeting, a new method of color photography of considerable interest, due to M. and H. M. Miley, of Lexington, Va. Two photographs were shown—a copy of Rembrandt Peale's Washington in the uniform of a colonial officer, and a plate of peaches. The process is a three-color film one, in which the essential modification of existing processes is the use of pigmented gelatine films in place of stained ones.

In making photographs by this method, three negatives are taken in colored light, the light being obtained by passing ordinary light through a medium of proper color interposed between the lens and the plate, usually a screen of colored glass or some coloring matter placed between sheets of thin glass. One negative is taken through a red screen, a second through a green screen and a third through a violet screen. The colors, red, green and violet, used for the screens should be such as transmit rays falling within a limited portion of the spectrum. The photographic plates used for the negatives must be adapted to the color of the light to which they are exposed; for the negative exposed to the red light an orthochromatic plate stained with cyanin solution, for that to the green light an unmodified orthochromatic plate and for violet light an ordinary gelatin-silver-bromid plate is used. From the negatives obtained positives are. made of carbon tissue (bichromated gelatin pigment paper). The carbon tissue, perhaps better, pigment tissue, used with the red light negative is charged with an inalterable blue pigment, the blue being the complementary of the red used in the production of the negative. The pigment tissue for the red and yellow positives, that is, the tissue used with the green and violet-light negatives is charged with the complementary inalterable red and yellow pigments. The pigment tissue, of whatever color, is sensitized, exposed and developed in the usual way with some modifications made to facilitate the manipulation during the development, transference and subsequent superposition of the films.

The yellow positive is made first and transferred to gelatine-coated paper which forms the final support of the photograph, the red positive is next made and before drying is superposed on the yellow positive, finally the blue positive is superposed on the other two. The resulting photograph, if the negatives have been of the right density, the pigments of the proper colors and the technique right, is one of which it can be safely said that none made by any other process can be compared with it. The photographs are superior to three-color prints, just as a carbon photograph is superior to a half-tone print, and are superior to an ordinary photograph in the same measure that a carbon print is. Miley's color photographs possess all the richness, depth and permanence of carbon photographs with the addition of color. Unlike the three-color halftone prints, there is no break in the continuity of the color. The texture and minute details of the subject are faithfully reproduced with a naturalness that can only be compared with the originals.

So far the process has been used for still life, landscapes and paintings, but it is possible to take portraits by it, as the time of exposure through the red screen is about fifteen seconds and, with a suitable plate-holder and screenholder, all three plates could be exposed easily in less than thirty seconds. It is hardly necessary to say that the method can be used for the production of transparencies and lantern slides. These, however, have not yet been made.


We regret to record the deaths of Professor William Harkness, the eminent astronomer, past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; of Dr. Norman Macleod Ferrers, F.R.S.., the mathematician, master of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and of Mr. James Glaisher, F.R.S., known for his work in meteorology and aeronautics.

Mr. Joseph Larmor, fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, has been elected Lucasian professor of mathematics in succession to the late Sir George Gabriel Stokes.—Professor E. F. Nichols, of Dartmouth College, has been elected to a chair of physics in Columbia University.—Mr. Stewart Culin, recently curator of the Museum of Science and Art of the University of Pennsylvania, has become curator of ethnology to the Museum of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences.— The Lucy Wharton Drexel medal of the University of Pennsylvania was presented to Professor F. W. Putnam at the Founder's Day celebration on February 21.—Dr. Albert B. Prescott, professor of chemistry in the University of Michigan, has been given the degree of LL.D. by Northwestern University.