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

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 66‎ | March 1905

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

THE CARNEGIE INSTITUTION OF WASHINGTON.

It is natural that the Carnegie Institution should claim frequent attention in a monthly report on the progress of science. Never before has there been an attempt on so large a scale to stimulate scientific research. The Royal Society of London; the Academies of Sciences of Paris, Berlin, Vienna, St. Petersburg and Rome; The Royal Institution of London, and the Smithsonian Institution, combined, do not have an income approaching that of the Carnegie Institution, nor have they the same freedom in the disposition of their funds. The third year book of the institution, which has just been published, is consequently a document of great interest to all those who concern themselves with the advancement of science. An artificial interest is further given to the annual report because the officers have hitherto followed the policy of not announcing until the end of the year their grants and appointments. An exception was of course made in the case of the president elected at the December meeting of the trustees to succeed Dr. Oilman; and we have already congratulated the institution and the research work of the country on the appointment of Professor R. S. Woodward, of Columbia University, to this important position.

It appears from the financial statement in the year-book that the disbursements for grants last year amounted to $267,232; for publication to $11,590, and for administration to $26,957. A reserve fund is being accumulated, $196,957 having been invested in railway bonds and there being a cash balance of $461,902. Appropriations have, however, been made for the current year that will exceed the income. They are as follows:

Reserve fund $ 50,000
Publication fund, to be continuously available 40,000
Administration 50,000
Grants for departments and large projects 310,000
Grants for miscellaneous researches 168,000

The most important project undertaken by the institution last year was the establishment of a department of experimental biology. Dr. Charles B. Davenport, of the University of Chicago, was appointed director of a Station for Experimental Evolution at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, and

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Seal of the Carnegie Institution.

Dr. Alfred G. Mayer, of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Science, was appointed director of a Marine Biological Laboratory at the Dry Tortugas, Florida. A grant of $34,250 was made to the station at Cold Spring Harbor, and of $20,000 to the laboratory at the Dry Tortugas.

We reproduce illustrations showing the buildings of these laboratories and the yacht built for the southern station. A grant of $40,000 was made for tropical Pacific exploration, but it seems that Mr. Agassiz preferred to

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Station for Experimental Evolution at Cold Spring Harbor.

undertake the expedition without accepting the grant.

The other large projects are research in geophysics, in charge of Dr. George F. Becker ($25,000); a department of terrestrial magnetism, in charge of Dr. L. A. Bauer ($20,000); a Trans Caspian archeological expedition, under Dr. Raphael Pumpelly ($18,000); a department of economics and sociology, under President Carroll D. Wright ($30,000), and a bureau of historical research, under Professor A. C. McLaughlin ($8,500). In the secondary grants, astronomy appears to have been favored. Professor George E. Hale received three grants aggregating $22,000, and, according to the daily papers, he has this year received a grant of $150,000 for a solar observatory on Mount Wilson. The next largest grants in astronomy were

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Second Floor Plan of the Cold Spring Harbor Station.

$5,000 to Dr. Lewis Boss, Dudley Observatory, Albany, N. Y., for astronomical observations and computations, and $4,000 to Professor W. W. Campbell for pay of assistants in researches at Lick Observatory.

Several of the largest appropriations were made in bibliography: $10,000 to Dr. Robert Fletcher, Army Medical Museum, Washington, D.C., for preparing and publishing the Index Medicus; $7,500 to Ewald Flügel, Stanford University, for the preparation of a lexicon to the works of Chaucer, and $5,000 to Mr. Herbert Putnam, Washington, D. C, for preparing and publishing a handbook of learned societies.

Other grants as large as $5,000 were for the desert botanical laboratory, described by Professor Lloyd in the last issue of the Monthly, $5,000; to Bailey Willis, U. S. Geological Survey, Washington, for geological exploration in eastern China, $12,000; for the Marine Biological Laboratory, at Woods Hole, Mass., $10,000; to Professor W. F. M. Goss, Purdue University, for a research to determine the value of high steam pressures in locomotive service, $5,000; to Professor W. O. Atwater, Wesleyan University, for investigations in nutrition. $7,000; to Professor Arthur Gamgee, Montreux, Switzerland, for preparing a report on the physiology of nutrition, $6,500. Numerous smaller grants were made from $100 upwards, and twenty-five research assistants were appointed with stipends ranging from $1,000 to $1,800. It is perhaps too early to express an opinion on the fruitfulness of the work of the institution. It appears that the large projects are more likely to yield valuable results than the smaller grants. The department of experimental evolution is certainly a useful undertaking, though we should prefer to see a laboratory established and left to develop as a separate institution on its own lines. The same is true of the solar observatory on Mount Wilson. Admirable work is sure to be accomplished under Professor Hale's direction, and an observatory should be established where the 'seeing' is the best. But the Yerkes Observatory was recently built and equipped with the largest of telescopes, and it seems unfortunate that it should be necessary for the director and part of the staff to be transferred at the expense of the Carnegie Institution to a new observatory in California, where there is already a mountain observatory of world-wide reputation. In most, though not in all, cases the secondary grants appear to have been safely bestowed, but usually for rather obvious and routine work, which might proceed

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The Marine Biological Laboratory at Tortugas, Florida.

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The Physalia, the Yacht of the Florida Station.

nearly as rapidly without them. Money so expended is certainly not wasted, but it is doubtful whether it is used to the best advantage. We must acknowledge that in America we do not so much lack money and equipment as men who will devote themselves unreservedly to scholarship and research. How money can be used to produce and assist such men is a problem yet to be! solved.

 

CLEMENS ALEXANDER WINKLER.

While Germany has called a third chemist from outside the boundaries of the empire supposed to contain the greatest chemists of the world, the death of this truly great and truly German chemist must be doubly felt, and the earnest words of warning repeatedly uttered by him should make a new and lasting impression; for surely something must be amiss in the boasted perfection of German chemistry when Germany finds it necessary to call on Russia, Holland and Sweden to find chemists for the chairs in her greatest universities. A remarkable critical article—the last one written by Clemens Winkler—was printed in the January number of The Popular Science Monthly; it forcibly presents the judgment of the discoverer of germanium on one of the dominant phases of chemical investigation of the present day, in which again German chemists are seen to occupy an extreme position, though they in this field also are merely followers, not originators. Since American chemists are wont to follow their, largely German, teachers, this critical paper deserves special attention in this country.

Clemens Winkler seemed predestined for chemistry. His ancestors for many generations were identified with the mining and smelting industries of old Freiberg; his father, Kurt Winkler, was especially prominent in this chemical industry and had been greatly favored as one of the last foreign students admitted to the private laboratory of Berzelius at Stockholm. The perfection of the analytical work of Clemens Winkler may be traced to this origin, which he himself was proud to remember, and which may also account for the fact, that some of his most critical analytical work was first published in the transactions of the Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Another favorable condition influencing Winkler's career was the fact that two of the most prominent men

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Clemens Alexander Winkler.

of science of the Freiberg Mining Academy were his uncles, namely the great engineer, Julius Weisbach, and the renowned mineralogist, August Breithaupt. The greatest practical achievements of Winkler combine those two fields of investigation, namely, the manufacture of sulphuric acid by the contact method, from the waste gases of roasting ores, and the rapid and accurate analysis of furnace gases. His treatise on volumetric analysis is also specially excellent in its methods of reduction. Both these works have passed through three editions; his contact method was awarded a grand prize at the St. Louis World's Fair.

The discovery of the element germanium, by which Winkler has been known best throughout the chemical world, also bears the mark of highest skill in both chemical and mineralogical sciences; for this element was detected in a very rare and always very thin coating of a silver ore occurring in but very few localities. Notwithstanding the exceeding scantness of the material, Winkler established the chemical character of the new element solidly by a complete study of its compounds and the production of the real element in the free state. Some of his original samples of this noted work could be seen in the German Chemical Exhibition at St. Louis this summer.

Clemens Winkler was born at Freiberg, Saxony, December 26, 1838; he became professor of chemistry there in 1873. and continued in this work with great success till his health failed in 1902. when he removed to Dresden, where he died after great suffering on October 8, 1904.

 

GREEK AT THE ENGLISH UNIVERSITIES.

The ancient English universities are just now much concerned over the tide of modern culture that is surging about their borders. Oxford has voted to sit Canute-like, while at Cambridge the decision is yet to be made. The question has passed beyond the limits of the universities and is being actively discussed in the newspapers and magazines. The proposal that was rejected by a small majority at Oxford was to exempt from the entrance examination in Greek candidates for honors in mathematics and natural science, while at Cambridge the syndicate has recommended making Greek optional in the 'little go.' The teachers at Cambridge would probably vote for the change, but the question must be decided by convocation, the masters of arts who consist largely of country clergymen. There is no doubt as to the ultimate outcome, as the medical men and others having a scientific education will soon be more numerous than those who take orders. It should indeed be remembered that the English universities are, on the whole, less conservative in this direction than our own, for while they demand a classical school education for entrance, they do not require any study of Latin or Greek at the university for the degree of bachelor of arts.

In America we are concerned with the decision of Oxford, owing to the Rhodes scholars, who are now passing their first year of residence there. At the examination of the College Entrance Examination Board last year the largest number taking a paper in Greek was 176, whereas there were 351 in physics, 661 in French, 693 in German, 1,033 in English and 1,060 in mathematics. The selection of Rhodes scholars must be made from that one sixth of the students entering college who have studied Greek, unless the language is crammed for the examination. Of the representatives of the forty-three states now at Oxford, six teen have entered for languages, thirteen for law and only three for science.

While the discrimination in favor of the classical languages and against the sciences at Oxford and to a lesser extent at Cambridge can not be approved by a scientific journal, and will probably be abolished in the near future, something may be urged in its favor. There is too great a tendency for our universities to lose individuality by making them places where everybody can learn anything. The newer English universities, such as London, Liverpool and Birmingham, are largely schools of science, and it might be wise to maintain one university based on classical learning. A home of lost causes and impossible loyalties exerts a certain commanding fascination over those who are subdued to its influence. From a wider point of view, there is something provincial in the attitude of a man such as Professor Jebb, who looks with contempt on the New Zealanders, because they are supposed to speak of 'Cupid and Sich,' while he himself is doubtless completely ignorant of the socialistic movement among that people which in the future history of the world will exert an influence out of comparison with the pretty fables of antiquity. But in the widening current of democracy and the broader fields of modern culture room is left for those who cling to the classical traditions, and there seems to be no reason to desecrate their particular shrine.

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS.

We regret to record the death of Professor A. S. Packard, the eminent zoologist of Brown University; of Mr. William Sellers of Philadelphia, the well-known engineer; of M. Paul Henry, the French astronomer, and of Professor Ernst Abbe, known for his improvements of optical instruments.

Scientific societies that met at Philadelphia during convocation week elected presidents as follows: The American Society of Naturalists, Professor William James, of Harvard University; the Geological Society of America, Professor Raphael Pumpelly, of Newport, R. I.; the Botanical Society of America, Professor R. A. Harper, of the University of Wisconsin; the Society of American Bacteriologists, Professor E. O. Jordan, of the University of Chicago; the American Anthropological Association, Professor F. W. Putnam, of Harvard University; the American Physiological Society, Professor W. H. Howell, of the Johns Hopkins University; the American Psychological Association, Professor Mary W. Calkins, of Wellesley College; the American Philosophical Association, Professor John Dewey, of Columbia University.

The city of Berlin has arranged a competition for plans for a monument to Rudolf Virchow. It is to be placed at the intersection of Karl and Luisen Streets, a square which will henceforth be known as Virchow Platz.—The famous singing master, Senhor Manuel Garcia, of London, who invented the laryngoscope fifty years ago, will be 100 years old March 17, 1905. The London Laryngological Society and other societies have arranged a celebration which includes the presentation of a portrait by Mr. John Sargent.—The Danish government has issued a stamp bearing the head of the late Professor Finsen with the object of placing within reach of the poorer classes a means of subscribing to the national monument by which it is proposed to commemorate his work.

Professor Ernest Rutherford, of McGill University, has been appointed Silliman lecturer at Yale University for 1905. The previous Silliman lecturers have been Professor J. J. Thomson, of Cambridge University, and Professor Charles S. Sherrington, of Liverpool University.—Dr. Livingston Farrand, professor of anthropology at Columbia University, has been placed in charge of the work of the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis.

President Eliot, of Harvard University, has been elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of the Institute of France.—Professor Lewis Boss, astronomer of the Dudley Observatory of Albany, N. Y., has been awarded the medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.—M. L. Troost, honorary professor of chemistry at the University of Paris, is this year president of the Academy of Sciences in succession to M. E. L. Mascart, professor of physics at the Collège de France.