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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 66/April 1905/The Progress of Science

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 66‎ | April 1905

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

THE BIRTH RATE AGAIN.

The Popular Science Monthly has printed several articles on the birth rate, and especially on the relation of higher education to the decreasing size of the family, as the subject appears to be of such consequence that it should be brought within the range of scientific treatment. It is, however, unfortunately true that the statistics are fragmentary and ambiguous, and that the opinions and theories are subject to such large personal equations as to make them almost valueless. It appears to be the case that only about one half of the alumnæ of the eastern colleges for women marry, and that they have on the average only about two children. One hundred alumnæ would thus leave in their places only fifty daughters, twenty-five granddaughters and twelve or thirteen great-granddaughters. But it is not at all certain that this disastrous state of affairs is due to the college education. It is probable that the marriage rate is lowered by the postponement of marriage to an older age and the ease of earning a living otherwise; but there are no available data to prove that the college graduate is less likely to marry than her sister who stays at home. She apparently does not have a smaller family than the Harvard graduate, who marries into the same class. It may be surmised reasonably that the higher education of woman is a minor factor in the decrease of the birth rate, but that the low marriage rate and small birth rate of college alumna? are primarily due to physiological infertility of the New England stock and to economic infertility of the upper middle classes.

While these matters are being discussed here without an adequate foundation of facts, a very thorough statistical study of the decline in the birth rate of New South Wales has been made by the government statistician, Mr. T. A. Coghlan. It has usually been assumed that the birth rate will be high in a new country, where there is room and work for all comers. This was in fact the case in Australasia until about 1880. The birth rate was then about thirty-eight per thousand inhabitants, and the average number of children in each family was about 5.4. In 1901 the birth rate in New South Wales had fallen to 27.6 and the average number of children in each family to 3.6. Between 1871 and 1880 to every thousand marriages there were 5,384 children, between 1891 and 1900 there may be expected to be 3,636 children. Mr. Coghlan calculates that of the 1,748 unborn children, the loss of 301 may be attributed to postponement of marriage, of 236 to barrenness and of 1,211 to decreased fertility.

Dr. Engelmann has argued in this journal and President Thomas of Bryn Mawr claimed in her address before the St. Louis Congress that a delay in the age of marriage does not appreciably affect the birth rate; but Mr. Coghlan shows that this is an important factor. When the average number of children is 3.6, a woman marrying at the age of twenty may expect to have five children, at the age of twenty-eight three children, at the age of thirty-two two children and at the age. of thirty-seven one child. An unexpected social condition is revealed by the fact that of the 94,708 first births in New South Wales in 1891-1900, 48.271 were of post-nuptial conception, 22,094 of anti-nuptial conception and 24,343 illegitimate. The gradual decline of the birth rate in France and other countries may be attributed plausibly in part at least to physiological infertility, but the sudden change in New South Wales in the course of ten years can not be so explained.

 

NEW ACADEMIC BUILDINGS.

American universities and colleges are more likely to lack men and endowments than buildings. While the salaries of college teachers have remained about stationary and have really become smaller, in view of the increased cost of living and the more complicated social conditions due to larger earnings in other professions. buildings are being continually erected on all sides. And the buildings are certainly welcome. The high school is likely to occupy the most imposing building, except perhaps banks and offices, in each town. The school, college and university express in material form the civic pride of the people somewhat as did formerly the church or cathedral.

We reproduce here illustrations of two of the buildings recently erected for the physical sciences. The Engineering Hall of Washington and Lee University is the gift of Mr. William H. Reid of Chicago. It is of colonial style, in keeping with that of the central university building, of brick with stone trimmings, a hundred feet in length, with an average width of fifty-six feet. The ground floor is used by the department of civil engineering with an electrical laboratory; the second

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Engineering Hall of Washington and Lee University.

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The Physical Laboratory of Wesleyan University.

floor is exclusively for work in physics; the third floor contains further laboratories for the two departments and drawing rooms. The engineering faculty contains seven professors, with ten other instructors, and provides well equipped courses in civil engineering, mining engineering and chemistry.

The John Bell Scott Memorial, the physical laboratory of Wesleyan University, was dedicated on December 7, the principal address being made by Dr. Edward B. Rosa, formerly professor of physics at Wesleyan University and now physicist of the National Bureau of Standards. The building is a gift from the late Charles Scott, of Philadelphia, and his son, Charles Scott, who died from disease contracted while serving as chaplain of the U. S. Cruiser St. Paul, during the Spanish-American War. The main part of the building is 102x51 feet on the ground plan, and consists of a basement, three stories and an attic. In addition there is an extension of 50x30 feet in the rear which has basement and two stories.

 

ALBERT BENJAMIN PRESCOTT.

In the death of Albert Benjamin Prescott, America has lost one of its most honored men of science. Perhaps the chief distinction that can be conferred on an American scientific worker by his colleagues is election to the presidency of the American Association for the Advancement of Science—the number of surviving past presidents is reduced to eighteen by the death of Prescott. Born in 1832, his whole life was associated with the University of Michigan, in the extraordinary development of which his own work was an important factor. He received there the doctorate of medicine in 1864 and was appointed assistant professor of chemistry in 1865. In 1870 he was promoted to a professorship of organic and applied chemistry and was in the same year made director of the School of Pharmacy.

These positions he has since retained as well as the directorship of the Chemical Laboratory, which he assumed in 1884. He served as president of the

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Albert Benjamin Prescott,

American Pharmaceutical Association in 1900, and his contributions to science were largely concerned with the chemistry of drugs, on which he wrote several important books and a large number of special contributions, including several articles in The Popular Science Monthly. He was also the author of excellent text-books on chemistry including 'Qualitative Chemical Analysis,' 1874; 'Outlines of Proximate Organic Analysis,' 1875; 'First Book of Qualitative Chemistry,' 1879, and 'Manual of Organic Analysis,' 1888.

Professor Prescott's death occurred on February 25, when he was in his

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Medal Struck in Honor of Captain Scott, Leader of the British Antarctic Expedition.

seventy-fourth year. Memorial services were held in the University of Michigan. Addresses were made by President Angell, Dean Vaughan and Dr. W. J. Herdman, of the medical faculty, and Professor M. L. D Ooge, of the literary faculty, and resolutions which had been adopted by the various faculties and classes, were read.

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS.

We regret to record the death of Alpheus Spring Packard, professor of zoology and geology at Brown University: of George Bond Howes, Huxley's successor in the chair of zoology at the Royal College of Science, London, and of Adolf Bastian, professor of ethnology at Berlin.

The Royal Geographical Society has struck a special gold medal in honor of Captain Scott, leader of the British Antarctic Expedition, an illustration of which is herewith reproduced.—The British Astronomical Society has conferred its gold medal on Professor Lewis Boss, director of the Dudley Observatory at Albany.—The Prussian Academy of Science has awarded its Helmholtz medal to Professor Ramón y Cajal, professor of neurology at Madrid.

The University of Pennsylvania has conferred the doctorate of science on Dr. R. S. Woodward, president of the Carnegie Institution; and the Johns Hopkins University has conferred the doctorate of laws on Professor William Osier, who is about to assume the regius professorship of medicine, at Oxford.—M. Moissan, of Paris, and Professor Wilhelm Ostwald, of Leipzig, have been elected corresponding members of the Berlin Academy of Sciences.—M. Janssen, director of the observatory at Meudon, and M. Moissan, professor of chemistry at the Sorbonne, have been elected members of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.—Professor Svante A. Arrhenius, of Stockholm, Professor W. F. P. Pfeffer, of Leipzig, and Professor W. Spring, of the University of Liege, have been elected honorary members of the German Chemical Society.