Popular Science Monthly/Volume 68/May 1906/The Progress of Science



The whirlwind of public expression in regard to diversion of Niagara waters, which has swept through the daily and periodical press, probably constitutes the most notable outburst of recent times over an essentially sentimental proposition. Making allowance for easy extravagances of statement natural to semisensational news articles, the serious elements in the problem have been agitated with so much force and with such preponderance of protests against further encroachments that the whole subject has found its way to the tribunals where the people have undoubtedly wished to get it.

By legislation or treaty, or both, the existing situation, which actually seems to menace the perpetuity of Niagara's natural beauties, can undoubtedly be remedied, but it still remains to be seen whether it will be. At the present writing the remedial measures instituted and in progress at Washington and Albany have created a situation from which the public may, at least, expect some salutary results, but which does not yet justify the rather noisy claims of various civic organizations that they have 'saved Niagara.'

The president in his last message to congress urged legislation and suggested treaty relations with Great Britain to the desired end. Governor Higgins in his annual message earnestly pressed the situation upon the New York legislature. President Roosevelt intimated that if New York could not take care of her rights in Niagara she might cede them to the federal government, but New York has not been inclined to entertain this proposition. Early in the present session of congress Senator Platt introduced a concurrent resolution authorizing the president to invite the cooperation of Great Britain in the appointment of an international commission which should undertake to make recommendations as to the solution of the problem and to appoint the American members thereof. The progress of this resolution, reported by Senator Burton out of the committee on foreign relations, was obstructed by the objection of Senator Teller, who thought that inasmuch as it was essentially a New York matter it must take its allotted place on the calendar, to be reached at some indefinite period in the future. It is understood that in the meanwhile the president had referred the matter of possible treaty relations to the secretary of state, but, if the press reports are correct, the efforts made by this official through the usual diplomatic channels have not yet borne fruit.

Meanwhile the international waterways commission, authorized a few years ago by the secretary of war to consider all problems arising in regard to the control of the boundary waters between the United States and Canada, after specially investigating the conditions during protracted hearings held at Niagara Falls last summer, has made an ex parte report in regard to diversion in the Niagara River, that is, a report adopted only by the American section of the commission. This is very strongly condemnatory of the existing and impending situation, and forcibly urges immediate legislation by congress to limit abstraction, if the beauty of the falls is to be preserved. This report calls attention to the fact, elicited by their inquiry, that the present authorized diversion from the Niagara River is 60,000 cubic feet per second, 26,700 to be taken from the American side and 34,200 from the Canadian; that this amount is 27 per cent. of the average discharge and 33 per cent. of the low water discharge of the entire river. It recommends as propositions for legislation by congress that the secretary of war be authorized to grant permits for the diversion (from the American side, of course) of a total not to exceed 28,000 cubic feet per second, this to include not only the power companies but the Erie, Welland and Chicago Drainage Canals. This prohibition is to remain permanent if after two years the Canadian government shall have enacted legislation prohibiting diversion of water pertaining and tributary to the Niagara River in excess of 36,000 cubic feet per second. Press reports indicate that the Canadian section of this commission, in making return to their government, dissent from the attitude of the American section, insisting that the most apparent damage to the falls must necessarily result from American diversion which affects the American side only. This attitude is undoubtedly just, and it is to be seriously questioned if the American section of this commission has given full weight to the fact that diversion of 28,000 cubic feet per second will much more seriously damage the flow of water through the American channel than the abstraction of 36,000 from the other side will affect the Canadian channel.

In the New York legislature action was begun by the introduction of a bill repealing four of the eight outstanding charters for power companies. As these four charters were already dead, the bill passed the senate. This was followed by another senate bill, introduced by the disinterested author of the former, restricting the consumption of water by the four remaining American companies to a maximum of 17,200 cubic feet per second each, or a total of 68,800 cubic feet per second, an amount more than the entire volume of water flowing through the American channel. The public is now too well informed to welcome just this brand of salvation for the falls, and the author of this bill deliberately killed it, saying that he was 'tired of trying to save the falls and could find no sentiment in favor of saving them.'

In the assembly Mr. Cox has introduced a concurrent resolution looking to a referendum for a constitutional amendment to prevent abstraction beyond that already chartered, and Mr. Foelker a bill so worded as to prohibit all American companies and all foreign companies doing business in this state to take more water than is actually being taken at the time of the passage of the act and instituting heavy penalties for violations of these provisions. This is the most radical measure that has anywhere appeared on behalf of the conservation of the falls and is probably the only measure that could actually effect a cure of the present menace to the American cataract. It is demonstrable and already demonstrated, that the full chartered consumption of waters by the American companies will dismantle the American falls, but the influence of these companies is far reaching, and in a public hearing on the two assembly bills mentioned it was decided to amend the Foelker bill so as to leave the companies their charter rights with penalties for transgression of these, and in this form, with the real vital clause extracted, this bill and also the Cox resolution have been reported and advanced. There never has been the slightest probability that any of the power companies would exceed their chartered rights of diversion. Indeed the entire contention has been that it is this chartered right which endangers the falls, and it is the recognition of this fact that constitutes the very meat of the recommendation by the international waterways commission. It does not seem, therefore, that the Foelker bill, should it become a law, will help the situation. Of more practical merit are the six bills, also introduced by Mr. Foelker, repealing the six outstanding charters, four of which are the already dead ones, killed again by the senate bill above referred to, and two the very perniciously quiescent companies, one of which is known to be controlled by a large railroad corporation. It remains to be seen whether these six repeal bills can get through the senate. So far then as the pending legislation at Albany is concerned, it will have little effect on the people's hope for Niagara whether the Foelker restriction bill wins out or fails, but it will be a most important step forward if the six Foelker repeal bills should succeed in reaching the governor.


The annual reports of President Eliot form a series of educational documents of great and permanent interest, by no means confined to the great university over which he presides. The current report states that the principal event of the year was the raising by general subscription of the 'teachers' endowment fund,' amounting to $2,300,000, for the increase of salaries in Harvard College. This was locally necessary, as the university was in danger of losing its men to other institutions; it is also of general academic interest. The average salary of the 57 professors in Harvard College was $3,980, and only 13 received as much as $5,000. The maximum salary has now been increased to $5,500 to be paid to all after a long enough period of service. The average salary of 57 assistant professors was $2,130, and of 88 instructors $990. These salaries have also been increased. The largest ordinary salaries at Columbia are $5,000, at Yale $3,750 and at Pennsylvania $3,500. It appears to be most unfortunate that while our leading universities have spent vast sums for grounds and buildings, the salaries have remained stationary or have even decreased.. The academic career should be made attractive by freedom, security and congenial work rather than by large salaries, but the salaries should be as large as those received for equal performance in other professions. Harvard has once again led the way in an important educational reform.

The report contains an account of the failure to form a merger with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The reason given is the decision of the supreme court forbidding the sale of the present site of the institute. This is technically correct, but the value of this land is really a small matter. It could have been readily transferred to the city for park or other public purposes without cost to the institute if the removal and the combination with Harvard had met with general approval. The fact is that the plan failed because the faculties and alumni of the two institutions opposed the union that was favored by the presidents and the corporations. We have here an interesting question of ultimate academic control, which President Eliot fails to discuss or even to notice.

Some elaborate statistics are given in the report in regard to students who have taken different kinds of college degrees during the past fifteen years at fourteen institutions of different type. These show that the old classical course has completely lost its predominance. The A.B. degree is now given at Harvard without Latin, though a classical language is still required at entrance. In many institutions, for example since 1901 at Michigan and Cornell, and since 1904 at Wisconsin, the A.B. is given without regard to the kind of entrance examination, and the number of degrees of this kind has greatly increased. Thus Wisconsin gave only 21 A.B.'s in 1903, as compared with 194 in 1905. Where two or more courses are maintained, one retaining more or less of the classics and the others without, the classical course tends relatively to lose ground. Thus in 1891 there were at Yale 832 students
The Harvard Corporation.

in the academic department and 374 in the Sheffield Scientific School; whereas last year the numbers were 1.275 and 875. In Princeton the similar figures are 504 and 155 in 1890 and 838 and 558 in 1905. President Eliot appears to favor giving only the A.B. degree for undergraduate study, but Harvard has this year established a bachelor of science degree in the college.

Of the many other interesting topics treated in the report, we can only mention the severe arraignment of football. No one objects to seeing our 'young barbarians all at play,' but under existing conditions of professionalism and commercialism, President Eliot does not perhaps word it too strongly when he says: "It is clearly the duty of the colleges, which have permitted these monstrous evils to grow up and to become intense, to purge themselves of such immoralities, and to do what they can to help the secondary schools to purge themselves also."

Harvard University has a form of government different from that of other American universities. Since 1650 the corporation has consisted of the president, the treasurer and five fellows, who are in certain respects responsible to the board of overseers, which is now elected by graduates of the college.

By the courtesy of the Harvard Graduates Magazine, we are able to reproduce here portraits of the present members of the corporation. The body is so small that the members take, an active interest in the welfare of the university; they have always been men of distinction in the community.


Harvard was once under the control of the State of Massachusetts; now there is agitation in favor of taxing the university. This change in attitude may not injure the university, but it is unfortunate for the people. In the central and western states the universities are supported with increasing liberality. In spite of the vast endowments of Chicago and Stanford, there is reason to believe that the state universities of Illinois and California will not be allowed to fall behind. The extraordinary growth of the state universities of the central west is shown on the accompanying chart, which was used in connection with the inauguration of President James, at the University of Illinois. The seven-fold increase in the number of students at that university in twelve years is most remarkable, but it is nearly paralleled by Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The present registration in the largest eastern private foundations is as follows: Harvard, 5,283; Columbia, 4,755; Cornell, 3,871; Yale, 3,477. In the four leading state universities of the middle west it is: Michigan, 4,521; Minnesota, 3,940; Illinois, 3,635; Wisconsin, 3,083. There are 17,386 students in the one group and 15,179, in the other. The increase last year in the eastern institutions was 320, in the western 554. The future growth of these universities will be a matter of interest. But it must be remembered that the greatness of a university is not measured by its size. The Johns Hopkins with 688 students has on its faculty thirty of our leading men of science; Illinois with 3,635 students has only six.


One of the last services of the late Professor Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, was his share in the removal of the body of Smithson from Genoa to Washington, where it now lies in a mortuary chapel at the north end of the Smithsonian Institution. Smithson died at Genoa on June 27, 1829, and was buried in the little English cemetery on the heights of San Benigno. There was originally no reference on his tomb to his foundation of the Smithsonian Institution, but a tablet was erected some ten years ago by the regents, who also undertook the care of the grave. But it became necessary to move the cemetery, and Dr. A. Graham Bell proposed to bring the body of Smithson to America to rest in the great institution of which he was the founder. Dr. Bell offered to defray the expenses, but was commissioned by the regents to undertake this duty on their behalf. He immediately proceeded to Genoa, where he arrived on Christmas Day of 1903. With the cooperation of our consul, Dr. Bell was permitted to exhume the body and bring it with him to the United States, where it was received with naval and military honors. On March 6, 1905, the remains were replaced in the original tomb in the chapel of the Smithsonian Institution, where they will rest until congress makes provision for their interment.

The story of Smithson's life is this: The illegitimate son of the first Duke of Northumberland, he was a gentleman commoner at Pembroke College, Oxford, and was elected fellow of the Royal Society in 1786 at the age of twentyone. He made contributions to chemistry of some importance, but suffered from ill health and discouragement. He lived on the continent, and was at one time at least a Jacobinite, regarding a king as a 'contemptible encumbrance.' He left his fortune to his nephew with the provision that if he died without heirs it should go 'to the United States of America, to found at Washington under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.' The United

The Tomb of James Smithson in the Smithsonian Institution.

States accepted the bequest, which amounted to $550,000, and after long discussion within and without congress the institution was established, which has so completely carried out the wishes of its founder.


We regret to record the death of Nathanial Southgate Shaler, professor of geology at Harvard University; of James Mills Peirce, Perkins professor of astronomy and mathematics at Harvard University, and of Robert Ogden Doremus, emeritus professor of chemistry at the College of the City of Xew York.

Professor E. C. Pickering, director of the Harvard College Observatory, has been elected a corresponding member of the Berlin Academy of Sciences.—Dr. Henry F. Osborn, professor of zoology at Columbia University, and curator of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, has been elected a foreign member of the Linnean Society of London.—Dr. William Osier, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, has been elected a member of the Athenæum Club, under the provisions which empower the annual election of nine persons 'of distinguished eminence in science, literature, the arts, or for public services.'

Father J. G. Hagen, S.J., professor of astronomy in Georgetown University, and director of the observatory, has been offered the directorship of the Vatican Observatory.—Mr. Arthur Eddington, B.A., B.Sc. (Manchester), of Trinity College, Cambridge, senior wrangler in 1904, has been appointed chief assistant in the Royal Observatory. Greenwich.

The American Philosophical Society is holding as we go to press a meeting in memory of the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin, its founder. In addition to the scientific program, which includes papers by Sir George Darwin and Professor Hugo de Vries, there are a number of special addresses. Professor Edward L. Nichols, of Cornell University, will speak on 'Franklin's Researches in Electricity' and Professor E. Rutherford, of McGill University, on 'Modern Theories of Electricity and their Relation to the Franklinian Theory.' Special addresses in commemoration of Franklin will be made by Dr. Horace Howard Furness, President Charles W. Eliot and the Honorable J. H. Choate, and the Honorable Elihu Root will, in accordance with the act of congress, present the Franklin medal to the Republic of France.

The Clarke School for the Deaf at Northampton, Mass., will receive an annual income of $1,500 to enlarge the training school facilities from the fund recently received by the Association for Teaching Speech to the Deaf, given to them by Dr. A. Graham Bell. Dr. Bell became heir to about $75,000 from the estate of his father, Dr. Melville Bell, the inventor of the system of visible speech, and he made over this sum to the association. His condition was that it should be used as a permanent memorial of his father's connection with the subject, the homestead in Georgetown, D. C, to become the office of the association, for printing, etc., and about half the property to have its income devoted to the training of teachers of the oral method.

Fob the best essay on 'Moral Training in Public Schools' a prize of five hundred dollars is offered, and for the second best, three hundred dollars. The conditions are: (1) Length of essay to be not less than 6,000 nor more than 12,000 words; (2) each essay must be submitted typewritten; (3) all essays must be in the hands of the committee not later than June 1, 1906. These prizes are offered by a citizen of California who desires his name withheld. He has appointed Rev. Chas. R. Brown, of Oakland, California; President David Starr Jordan, of Stanford University, and Professor F. B. Dresslar, of the University of California, Berkeley, 'trustees of the fund and sole judges of the merits of the essays submitted." The two prize essays shall become the property of the trustees, to be by them 'published and circulated as widely as possible' from the fund at their disposal 'within the limits of the United States.' Any essay not awarded a prize will be returned to the writer upon request, accompanied by postage.