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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 65/May 1904/The Progress of Science

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 65‎ | May 1904

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

AGRICULTURAL WORK IN THE PHILIPPINES.

The introduction of American methods for the promotion of agriculture in the island possessions has followed closely upon American occupation. In Hawaii and Porto Rico experiment stations have been established under government support, and in the Philippine Islands a bureau of agriculture was put in operation about two years ago. The activity of this bureau in organizing its work of propaganda and investigation, as indicated by Professor F. Lamson-Scribner's second annual report, has been mainly along the lines of establishing experiment stations and farms, studying the conditions surrounding the principal agricultural industries, the introduction of farm machinery and improved methods of culture, and the testing and distribution of introduced plants and seed.

Seven experiment stations and farms have been established for special branches of agriculture or in typical sections of the country. These include a rice farm, a live stock farm, a sugar station, a farm for cocoanut and abacâ (Manila hemp) culture, a testing station near Manila, and two other stations for general work in typical localities. For the coffee industry, formerly an extensive one in Batangas Province but now practically abandoned, owing to the ravages of leaf blight and borers, a coffee plantation has been started with imported hybrids, and it is hoped to secure resistance to disease and insect injuries by vigorous growing varieties and thorough cultivation.

Special effort is being made to promote the rice industry, for although rice is the staple article of food for the Filipinos, not enough is produced for home consumption. The most approved American methods are being followed on the rice farm, and the crop of last year, which occupied about 1,000 acres, was seeded, cut and thrashed out with the latest machinery. This demonstration was a revelation to the natives whose methods of stowing and handling the product are very primitive, and they were willing to pay a good toll for having their rice thrashed out by machinery, in preference to hand thrashing. In fact, the natives have taken readily to the modern agricultural implements and machinery introduced by the bureau, and soon get to use them skilfully.

On the hemp and cocoanut farm the problems of managing the plantations and of preparing copra, a staple article of export, are being taken up. A more careful selection of the species of abacâ and better methods of culture would greatly increase the yield of merchantable fiber, and the perfection of a machine for stripping and cleaning the hemp fiber would aid greatly in developing this important industry. A very interesting study of the present methods of preparing the hemp, and its effect upon quality, is incorporated in the report.

The live stock found in the islands is for the most part of an inferior quality, and the industry is at present at a low ebb, disease (surra and rinderpest) having carried off so many of the work animals as to cripple very seriously the native farming. Improved stock of different kinds has been imported for the stock farm, and the attempt will be made to ascertain the breeds and crosses best adapted to existing conditions, and to solve the forage problem. The latter is an acute one, under present conditions, the universal forage consisting of grass cut fresh every day and sold to supply the need from day to day. Among the forage plants tested by the bureau, teosinte has given great promise, yielding enormous crops of green fodder and giving many cuttings. Nowhere in the Philippines is any attempt made to produce hay, although this is thought to be entirely practicable.

These are only a few of the more prominent lines which the bureau has already entered upon, in addition to its explorations and the publication of technical and popular bulletins, frequently in both English and Spanish. While its work has of necessity been quite largely preliminary thus far, it has clearly indicated the great opportunities which are open to it, and the value which it may be in improving and developing the underlying industry of the archipelago.

 

ANTARCTIC EXPLORATION.

The safe return of the British Antarctic expedition is announced by cable from New Zealand. It appears that the relief ships sent by the British government, the Morning and the Terranova, which left Hobart on December 5, reached the Discovery on January 5. The ice began to break at 1 he end of the month, assisted by systematic dynamiting. On February 12 a general break-up brought the relief ships to Hut Point, and on February 14 two heavy charges of dynamite placed the Discovery in open water. In the succeeding days the heavy gales drove the vessels apart and the Discovery was driven ashore, where she remained for eight hours in a critical position before she freed herself. During the antarctic summer Captain Scott and his party made two excursions westward over a glacier. They gained the summit on October 11 and crossed the magnetic meridian on October 20 in longitude 15512 east. Proceeding still westward, the party reached a point 270 miles from the ship in latitude 78, south longitude 14612 east. The interior of South Victoria is evidently a vast continental plateau stretching continuously upward for 9,000 feet. In November another party reached a point 160 geographical miles southeast of the

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The Scotia in Scotia Bay.

 

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Route of the Scottish Antarctic Expedition.

ship. There was no trace of land, and. evidence was obtained showing that this was a vast floating ice plain.

The return of Captain Scott must be awaited for accurate accounts of the scientific work of the expedition. In the meanwhile, however, reports are being published of the results of the German, Swedish and Scottish expeditions. It will be remembered that the Gauss, under Professor E. von Drygalski, has returned from the exploration of Wilkes Land and the Weddell Sea, while the Scotia, under Mr. W. S. Bruce, and the Antarctic, under Dr. Otto Nordenskjöld, have been in the South Atlantic. The Antarctic was crushed in the ice and abandoned, but the members of the expedition and a large part of the collections were rescued by the Argentine relief ship. A full account of the work of the expedition will be found in The Geographical Journal for February. In the Scottish Geographical Magazine for the same month is an account by Mr. Bruce of the voyage of the Scotia, and we reproduce here an outline of the route and the position of the vessel in its winter quarters in Scotia Bay on Laurie Island. Mr. Nussman and a party of five men remain at this station engaged particularly with meteorological and magnetic observations, and the Scotia, with the assistance of the Argentine government, is about to return.

 

THE SCIENTIFIC WORK OF PROFESSOR ARRHENIUS.

There are many people who believe that the scientific man of to-day must be a narrow specialist if he is to make a name for himself. It may, therefore, be well to consider how far this is true of Arrhenius, to whom a Nobel prize has recently been awarded. Svante August Arrhenius was born in Sweden, February 19, 1859. In 1883 he received the doctor's degree from the University of Upsala, though not in a very satisfactory way. Arrhenius had taken for his thesis the galvanic conductivity of electrolytes, and had developed the outlines of what is now known as the electrolytic dissociation theory. The importance of the work submitted by the young Arrhenius was not perceived as clearly in Upsala then as it is now. The physicists maintained that the thesis was essentially chemical in nature and that it did not represent work in the field of physics. The chemists were equally positive that the thesis dealt more with physics than with chemistry. When this latter contention was over-ruled officially, Arrhenius was given his degree 'non sine laude.'

It is probable that the thesis would have been approved with even less enthusiasm if it had not been for Professor Pettersson, who took a strong stand in favor of Arrhenius, and yet it is not much of an exaggeration to say that the Nobel prize was awarded to Arrhenius for the ideas contained in his doctor thesis. When the theory of electrolytic dissociation was supplemented by the van't Hoff theory of osmotic pressure, the aggressive energy and wonderful teaching ability of Ostwald developed physical chemistry from an unimportant and almost unrecognized subject to its present position.

In 1886 Arrhenius received a grant from the Swedish Academy which enabled him to work in Germany with Kohlrausch, in Austria with Boltzmanh, in Russia with Ostwald, and in Holland with van't Hoff. His friends, however, were not able to get him any official place until 1891, when Arrhenius was given a teaching position in physics at the Stockholm Högskola. The opposition to Arrhenius was so strong that it was with difficulty that he was promoted to the chair of physics at Stockholm in 1895, and he was only elected a member of the Swedish Academy in 1901.

During the first eight years after graduation, the work of Arrhenius was chiefly chemical. The electrolytic dissociation theory w r as not received enthusiastically by the majority of the physicists, and the chemists, with a few striking exceptions, were even more hostile to it. The bulk of the missionary work was done by Ostwald, but Arrhenius was not backward in the fray. While never deserting the old love, new interests arose when Arrhenius was appointed to teach physics at Stockholm. We have first a series of investigations on conductivity in flames and hot gases, which is a very natural development of the earlier work on the conductivity of solutions. This work on gases led by easy transitions to a study of cosmical physics. In 1894 Arrhenius considers the effect of the moon on the electrical state of the earth's atmosphere. In 1895 a calculation of Langley's measurements on the radiation from the moon leads to a theory of the glacial period and the Eocene period as brought about by the variation in the amount of carbonic acid in the air. In 1900 we have a cosmical speculation in which there is a systematic discussion of the nature of comets, nebulæ, protuberances, faculæ and zodiacal light, as well as of the variations of barometric pressure, terrestrial magnetism, etc.

In 1903 appeared the 'Lehrbuch der cosmischen Physik,' two large volumes of approximately five hundred pages each. The first volume deals with astronomical and geological phenomena, while the second is practically a treatise on meteorology. Arrhenius takes
 
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Ostwald. Arrhenius.
 

a decided stand in regard to the question of solar heat. He rejects the theories of Helmholtz and Kelvin, as being incompatible with geological evidence. While chemical theories have been considered hopelessly insufficient to account for the tremendous outpour of heat observed, Arrhenius advocates a return to them. He points out that the exchanges of energy in t lie redistribution of chemical equilibria are enormously greater at very high temperatures than at lower ones and that for this reason computations made from laboratory data have no bearing on the problem. While this hypothesis of Arrhenius may not stand the test of time, it is an interesting one and especially in view of the peculiar heat effects manifested by radium. Of the book itself Professor Barus says, in a review: "As a whole the work will take rank beside the great contributions of Mohn, Guldberg (who, it will be noted, shared with Arrhenius this double allegiance to chemistry and geophysics), and others, who have made meteorology a debtor to the thinkers of the North." It may also be mentioned that Arrhenius will attend the International Congress of Arts and Science at St. Louis as one of the speakers before the Section of the Sciences of the Earth.

The most recent papers of Arrhenius deal with the chemistry of serums, and it seems probable that the study of medical problems will occupy much of his time during the next few years. In Arrhenius w r e have a man who has received the Nobel prize before he was forty-five, and whose scientific work ranges from, salt solutions to comets and from glacial periods to the typhoid bacillus. Such a record lends little support to the belief that a scientific man must be a narrow specialist if he is to attain eminence. This belief rests on a misapprehension. It is true that scientific men are accumulating facts at a tremendous rate and that this apparently makes it more and more difficult for any one man to be master of anything more than a small branch of a single science. Along with this accumulation of isolated facts, however, there comes the development of great simplifying generalizations or laws which enable men to grasp and remember an enormous number of facts. It is only during the brief periods when the discovery of new facts has not yet given rise to newer and more comprehensive theories that there is even an appearance of narrowness.

 

LINNÆUS.

Carolus Linnæus was born on May 13, 1707, and suggestions have already been made as to the celebration of the bicentenary of his birth. The centenary of his death was duly commemorated by the erection of a statue in Stockholm by Professor Kjelberg which stands in the Humlegarden, and represents the great naturalist holding in his hand the 'Systema Naturæ' and surrounded by allegorical figures representing botany, zoology, mineralogy and medicine. Just what form the celebration of the bicentenary of Linnaeus's birth will take in his native country has not been decided, but it is not perhaps too early to make preparations for a suitable commemoration in America.

There has perhaps been in recent years a tendency to depreciate the work of Linnaeus, some of his ideas having been discovered in the publications of previous writers and his works naturally containing many mistakes. But he is the founder of botany and in a way of modern natural history to an extent but rarely vouchsafed in science to a single man. He left order where there had been confusion, and largely prescribed the development of a science for a century, until the time of Darwin and the theory of evolution. Linnaeus himself seems almost to have foreseen the course of events, for he said: 'A natural method is the first and last thing to be desired in botany; nature does not make leaps.'
 
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Carolus Linnæus.

 

The education of Linnæus was irregular, as has been frequently the ease with men of science, and his early life was more adventurous than is usual al the present day. His interest in the names and qualities of plants is said to have begun at the age of four. His father, who was a clergyman, wished to train him for the church, but when he showed no taste for routine studies, he was almost apprenticed to a shoemaker. He made his way through Swedish universities with many adventures and spent a number of years in Holland, whence he visited England. He practised medicine for a time at Stockholm, but finally received a professorship at Upsala which he held for thirty-seven years. He made this northern town the center for natural history in Europe, its students increasing from 500 to 1,500 through his influence. Expeditions proceeded thence to all parts of the world, and all discoveries were reported to Linnæus, resulting in a large series of works by him and his pupils. All honors were then showered upon him. He was ennobled under the name Carl von Linné and founded an estate. His son inherited his position at the university, but not his talents. When he died on January 10, 1778, his reputation was world-wide, and his name will always be a landmark in the history of science.

 

PRESIDENT ELIOT.

The seventieth birthday of President Eliot, perhaps the greatest American now living, was celebrated at Harvard University on March 20. Mr. John Sargent has been invited to paint a portrait which will be placed in the Harvard Union. The following admirably expressed letter with some ten thousand signatures was presented to President Eliot:

March 20, 1904.

Dear Mr. President: As with undiminished power you pass the age of seventy, we greet you.

Thirty-five years ago you were called to be president of Harvard College. At the age of thirty-five you became the head of an institution whose history was long, whose traditions were firm, and whose leading counselors were of twice your age. With prophetic insight you anticipated the movements of thought and life; your face was towards the coming day. In your imagination the college was already the university.

You have upheld the old studies and uplifted the new. You have given a new definition to a liberal education. The university has become the expression of the highest intellectual forces of the present as well as of the past.

You have held from the first that teacher and student alike grow strong through freedom. Working eagerly with you and for you are men whose beliefs, whether in education or in religion, differ widely from your own, yet who know that in speaking out their beliefs they are not more loyal to themselves than to you. By your faith in a young man's use of intellectual and spiritual freedom you have given new dignity to the life of the college student.

The universities and colleges throughout the land, though some are slow to accept your principles and adopt your methods, all feel your power and recognize with gratitude your stimulating influence and your leadership.

Through you the American people have begun to see that a university is not a cloister for the recluse, but an expression of all that is best in the nation's thought and character. From Harvard University men go into every part of our national life. To Harvard University come from the common schools, through paths that have been broadened by your work, the youth who have the capacity and the will to profit by her teaching. Your influence is felt in the councils of the teachers and in the education of the youngest child.

As a son of New England you have sustained the traditions of her patriots and scholars. By precept and example you have taught that the first duty of every citizen is to his country. In public life you have been independent and outspoken; in private life you have stood for simplicity. In the great and bewildering conflict of economic and social questions you have with clear head and firm voice spoken for the fundamental principles of democracy and the liberties of the people.

More precious to the sons of Harvard than your service as educator or citizen is your character. Your outward reserve has concealed a heart more tender than you have trusted yourself to reveal. Defeat of your cherished plans has disclosed your patience and magnanimity and your willingness to bide your time.

Fearless, just, and wise, of deep and simple faith, serene in affliction, self-restrained in success, unsuspected by any man of self interest, you command the admiration of all men and the gratitude and loyalty of the sons of Harvard.

 

THE WILL OF HERBERT SPENCER.

Mr. Spencer's will is a document so interesting and characteristic that we quote some of the details, as published in the London Times. The first clause gives very exact directions as to the burial, and the executors are not to receive their fees unless these are observed. The clause reads: "I direct that if I shall die in any part of Great Britain, my body shall be placed in a coffin with a loose lid easily opened from below, and that it shall be subsequently burned in a proper crematory, and the ashes taken to the space numbered 33,292 purchased by me in the unconsecrated part of the Highgate Cemetery, and deposited in a fit cavity made in the concrete foundation underlying the stone slab now placed there; and my express direction is that my cremation and the subsequent deposition of my ashes shall be conducted without any species of religious ceremony such as is used either by the Church of England or any other sect, though I do not object to an address delivered by a friend; but otherwise the ceremony is to be silent, and I direct that no monument shall be placed over my ashes until at least two months after my funeral."

Among the books and manuscripts bequeathed to the trustees and executors are the 'Autobiography' with directions to secure its simultaneous publication in England and America after the corrections have been made that are marked in the press copy. The 'Autobiography' will be published in America by Messrs. D. Appleton and Co. at about the same time as this issue of the Monthly. Mr. David Duncan is requested to write a biography in one volume, of moderate size, in which shall be incorporated such biographical materials as I have thought it best not to use myself together with such selected correspondence and such unpublished papers as may seem of value, and shall include the frontispiece portrait and the profile portraits, and shall add to it a brief account of the part of my life which has passed since the date at which the autobiography concludes.' The trustees are to give their approval of the biography before it is published, and to arrange with the biographer 'for payment either of a fixed sum to be paid out of my estate or by receipt of the net proceeds of sales in England and the United States; but if the net receipts exceed £600, then the surplus to be equally divided between the biographer and my trustees, who will retain the copyright.'

The will makes numerous personal bequests, such as to Dr. Henry C. Bastian—telescope, case of drawing instruments, etc., reading easel, 'and the invalid bed of my invention with its appliances for private or public use'; to Mrs. Leonard Courtney—a victoria with india-rubber tires; to Mrs. Sidney Webb—'the piano given to me by my American friend, Mr. Andrew Carnegie,' with music-stool, music-shelves, and contained music.

The income from invested property and from the sale of his works is to be used for the completion of the 'Descriptive Sociology.' "I declare that my trustees shall apply as nearly as possible the whole of the income derived from all investments for the time being representing my residuary estate and also the income derived by my estate from the publication and sale of the works mentioned in this my will (including the autobiography and biography) in resuming and continuing during such period as may be needed for fulfilling my express wishes, but not exceeding the lifetime of all the descendants of Queen Victoria who shall be living at my decease and of the survivors and survivor of them, and for twenty-one years after the death of such survivor, the publication of the existing parts of my 'Descriptive Sociology' and the compilation and publication of fresh parts thereof upon the plan followed in the parts already published. And I expressly empower my trustees to delegate to some competent person the duty of selecting and appointing (subject to their approval) competent compilers, deciding (subject to their approval) upon successive works to be undertaken by them, overseeing the execution of such works, superintending their approval) upon the remuneration of such compilers, and rendering periodical reports and accounts to my trustees, and out of such annual income my trustees shall appropriate and pay to the person so delegated £150 per annum, or such larger sum as, having regard to the work done, they may think reasonable and proper. And I wish that the first person so appointed shall be Henry Tedder, secretary and librarian to the Athenæum Club."

The ultimate disposition of the estate is as follows: "When the series of works, and the reorganized work, specified above shall have been completely executed and published, my trustees shall thereupon sell by auction the copyrights, stereotype plates and stock of the whole body of them, and shall sell in like manner the copyrights, stereotype plates and stock of such of my works, if any, as continue to be published by them, and shall sell in the usual way the shares, stocks, funds, securities and other property held by them as trustees, and shall give the sum realized in equal parts to the Geological Society, the Geographical Society, the Linnean Society, the Anthropological Institute, the Zoological Society, the Entomological Society, the Astronomical Society, the Mathematical Society, the Physical Society, the Chemical Society, the Royal Institution and the British Association, or such of them as shall then be in existence, and shall accept the gift upon the condition in each case that the sum received shall, within five years from the date of payment, be spent by the governing body for the purchase or enlargement of premises, or for books or apparatus, or collections, or for furniture or repairs, or for equipment, or for travelers and donations of instruments of research; but in no way or degree for purposes of endowment; and, after having previously made an authorized statement of the purposes for which the donation is to be used, the receipt or acknowledgment by the treasurer or secretary of the society to or for the benefit of which the payment is made to be in each case an absolute discharge to my trustees, and a certificate in writing signed by all my trustees stating that they have carried out the provisions of the trust to the best of their judgment and ability shall be a complete termination of their responsibilities and shall be conclusive and binding on all persons and institutions interested under this my will."

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS.

We regret to record the death of M. F. A. Fouqué, the well-known French geologist and mineralogist; of Dr. Karl Schumann, titular professor of botany at Berlin and curator of the Royal Botanical Museum; of Henri Perrotin, director of the Observatory at Nice; of Dr. W. W. Markownikow professor of chemistry in the University of Moscow; of Arthur Greeley, professor of biology at Washington University, St. Louis; and of John I. Jegi, professor of psychology and physiology in the Milwaukee State Normal School.

Dr. Alexander Agassiz, director of the Harvard University Museum and president of the National Academy of Sciences, has been advanced to a foreign associate of the Paris Academy of Sciences, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Sir George Gabriel Stokes.—McGill University has conferred the degree of LL.D. on Dr. Edward L. Trudeau of Saranac Lake, N. Y., in recognition of his work on the open-air treatment of tuberculosis, and on Mr. Edward Weston, of Newark, N. J., the investigator and inventor in electrical science.—Dr. Simon Flexner, director of the Rockefeller Institute, New York, has been elected president of the American Association of Pathologists and Bacteriologists.

Professor C. S. Sherrington, of Liverpool University, opened his course of Silliman lectures at Yale University on April 22.—The subjects of the Herter lectures given during April at the Johns Hopkins University by Professor Paul Ehrlich were: (1) 'The mutual relations between toxine and antitoxine'; (2) 'Physical chemistry versus biology in the doctrines of immunity'; (3) 'Cytotoxines and cytotoxic immunity.'

The new medical laboratories of the University of Pennsylvania will be dedicated on June 11. The laboratories cost $700,000. The principal addresses will be delivered by Dr. H. P. Bowditch, professor of physiology at the Harvard Medical School; Dr. R. H. Chittenden, director of the Sheffield Scientific School, Yale University; Dr. George Dock, professor of medicine at the University of Michigan, and Dr. Horatio C. Wood, professor of materia medica and pharmacy at the University of Pennsylvania.—Active preparations are being made at the New York Zoological Garden in Bronx Park for taking the animals out of winter quarters. Work is also being pushed with all possible speed on several new houses in the garden, the most important of which are the bird house, to cost $115,000; the small mammal house, to cost $38,000, and the ostrich house, to cost about the same sum.—The executive committee of the Carnegie Institution has adopted the recommendation of the biological committee to establish a Department of Experimental Biology and to call Professor C. B. Davenport, of the University of Chicago, to the charge of it. The work of the department will include at present, among others, a station for Experimental Evolution at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, on land granted by the Wawepex Society, and a Tropical Marine Biological Station at the Dry Tortugas. Dr. Davenport is proposed as director of the former station and Dr. Alfred G. Mayer, of the Museum of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, as director of the latter station. Fuller details are promised as the plans of the department progress.