Popular Science Monthly/Volume 69/December 1906/The Progress of Science



The new engineering building of the University of Pennsylvania was dedicated on October 19, in the presence of delegates from over one hundred scientific institutions and societies and representatives of six leading foreign nations. The building was open for inspection in the morning, and after luncheon had been served in the building the formal ceremonies took place. > Provost Harrison accepted the building on behalf of the trustees, thanking especially Professors Spangler and Marburg, the heads of the departments of mechanical, electrical and civil engineering that occupy the building, the architects, Messrs. Cope and Stewardson, the workmen and the numerous donors who had made the building possible. The degree of doctor of science was conferred on a number of eminent engineers, and the principal addresses were made by Mr. Frederick W. Taylor, the president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and Dr. Alexander C. Humphreys, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology.

The building, a view of which and a general plan of the first floor are shown in the accompanying illustrations, is the largest of the seventy buildings now occupied by the University of Pennsylvania, having a frontage of 300 feet and a depth of 210 feet. The cost, including equipment, was almost one million dollars. It is of fire-proof construction, and the equipment is of the most modern and approved type. The exterior is of dark brick, with limestone trimmings, and the general architectural treatment is in the English-Georgian school, in accord with the later university halls. There are three stories, the total floor area being 128,000 square feet. The heating is by direct steam; the ventilation by electrically-driven fans, and the lighting by electricity. The steam for the engines is supplied from the central station of the university, and, after being used by the engines, is sent into the heating system of the building. There are two principal entrances leading to the main hallway, which extends east and west the entire length of the building to staircases at both extremities. The basement contains locker rooms, lavatories, machinery for heating and ventilating, storage battery rooms, laboratories for geodetic and hydraulic work, and for the testing of the materials of construction. On the first floor, adjacent to the main entrance, are the offices of the heads of departments, the eastern part of the building being devoted entirely to the civil engineering department, and the western part to the mechanical engineering department. Accommodation is also provided for physical and hydraulic testing, instrument testing and for special work in mechanical and electrical engineering. Rooms are likewise set aside for dynamos and electric motors, steam and gas engines, refrigerating apparatus, hydraulic motors, boiler testing, pattern-making, wood and iron working, foundry and machine shops, etc. On the second floor is a reference library and reading room, a students' assembly room, rooms for the use of instructors and for lectures and recitations. The rear portion of this floor is devoted almost wholly to drawing rooms. A room for the use of the engineering societies, a general supply store, and the library stack occupy

The Engineering Building of the University of Pennsylviania.

Ground Plan of the Engineering Building, University of Pennsylvania

the middle portion. In the east and west wings ample space is assigned to the engineering museums, while the rear of this floor is set aside exclusively for additional drawing rooms, which, like those just beneath, will have the full advantage of a north light.

The engineering department of the university was established in 1874, but the constant increase of numbers in the classes of the departments has necessitated their moving into more spacious quarters three times since their founding. The departments this year have a total enrollment of nearly six hundred students, and a teaching force of forty.

As Mr. Taylor said at the close of his address: "Philadelphia is the center of the largest and most diversified group of engineering and manufacturing enterprises in this country. The engineering schools of the University of Pennsylvania already stand high; but it seems to me that the opportunity lies open to them even more than to their famous medical and law schools to stand at the very top. This magnificent building, equipped as it is with the latest and best of everything, is the first and a great step towards this end. But after all, your largest possibility and one which does not exist for, and can not be created by, any other American university, lies in the opportunity for bringing your students into close touch and personal contact with the men who are working in and managing the great industrial establishments of Philadelphia."


The Harveian oration, delivered annually before the Royal College of Physicians, London, was given on October 18 by Dr. William Osier, regius professor of medicine in the University of Oxford, and formerly professor of medicine in the Johns Hopkins University, who chose as his subject 'The Growth of Truth: as illustrated in the discovery of the circulation of the blood.' With his felicity of expression and wealth of knowledge of the history of medicine and science, Dr. Osier reviewed again the instructive story of the discovery. Though rehearsed now for two hundred and fifty years by Harveian orators, the story loses in Dr. Osler's

William Harvey.

From a painting by De Reyn, in the rooms of the Royal Society; reproduced in Sir William Huggins's 'The Royal Society.'

hands none of its interest and is well worth the repetition.

By the terms of Harvey's bequest, founding the lectureship, the orator is among other things enjoined to exhort the fellows of the college 'to search out and study the secrets of nature by way of experiment.' The discovery of the circulation of the blood is itself a conspicuous illustration of the fruitful application of the experimental method to a fundamental physiological problem, as well as a type of the evolution of scientific truth through the various stages, from the accumulation of facts and observations to a universally accepted explanation. The discovery of the general circulation is one of the important landmarks in the history of science. It evidences, on the one hand, in a peculiarly striking manner, the overthrow of authority and the birth of the modern scientific spirit. On the other hand, in the discovery and more particularly in the methods by which it was attained are laid the foundations of experimental physiology and medicine, which have contributed so incalculably to human welfare.

The sixteenth century had witnessed! notable contributions to the knowledge of the structure of the human body. The work of Vesalius, Fallopius and Fabricius had brought about numerous corrections in the anatomy of Galen, which had been taught in the schools with but little change for fourteen centuries. The Galenical physiology remained, however, in complete authority on all matters pertaining to the functions of the body. It taught that the liver is the source of the blood, one! kind of which flowed to the right ventricle and thence by way of the veins to the lungs and the general system, the other by way of the arteries from the left ventricle to the lungs and general system. It was supposed that the blood flowed directly from the right to the left ventricle through the pervious septum of the heart. The muscular function of the heart in propelling the blood was unknown. Such were the prevailing conceptions in Harvey's time. While the lesser circulation had been fully described, its function was supposed to be the nutrition of the lungs. It may be doubted whether any one had even glimmerings of the greater or systemic circulation. The demonstration of this was Harvey's great work, all the more notable since the estimation of the significance of a scientific discovery is determined by the state of knowledge at the time when it is made.

After studying medicine at Padua under Fabricius, the foremost anatomist of the day, Harvey returned to London as a general practitioner, and in the course of time was appointed Lumleian lecturer to the Royal Colege of Physicians. It was before the president, censors and fellows of the college and an unusually large company of laymen that, on April 17, 1616, he demonstrated the structure and action of the heart and propounded his new doctrine of the general circulation. The formal announcement of the discovery in the De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis was, however, deferred for twelve years, furnishing an interesting instance of delay in the publication of a great discovery through fear of the prejudices of men. The motive which actuated Harvey is not far to seek. So complete was the dominance of the authority of Hippocrates, Galen and Columbus that few would have had the temerity to question doctrines which had the sanction of the ancients and were sealed by general acceptance.

The new theory was as usual given a tardy recognition, and in some parts, notably in France, was met with open hostility. Owing, however, to the care and accuracy in observation and experimentation, to the fullness of the array of evidence adduced, and to the brilliancy of the demonstration, its truth could not long be denied. He himself lived to see his discovery all but universally accepted, and Hobbes's oft-quoted statement is well-nigh literally true that Harvey, 'conquering envy, hath established a new doctrine in his lifetime.' Complete and universal acceptance was, however, not obtained until late in the century, even after Malpighi had in 1661 by means of the newly invented microscope completed the demonstration of the circulation by tracing the course of the blood in the capillaries. In contrast with the tenacity with which traditional conceptions have been adhered to in the past, as illustrated in this discovery and its reception, and the whole history of science is strewn with more bitter struggles for acceptance, it is gratifying to note the receptivity of the public mind to new theories in our day and the tolerance and readiness with which they are accorded a hearing.

The significance of Harvey's work lay not merely in the discovery of the circulation of the blood and the profound changes which it wrought in the conceptions of the functions of the body and in medical thought and practise, great though these were. It lay more perhaps in its contribution to the development of scientific method. In the words of the Harveian orator, "here for the first time a great physiological problem was approached from the experimental side by a man with a modern scientific mind who could weigh evidence and not go beyond it, and who had the sense to let the conclusions emerge naturally but firmly from the observations. To the age of the hearer, in which men had heard, and heard only, had succeeded the age of the eye, in which men had seen, and had been content only to see. But at last came the age of the hand—the thinking, devising, planning hand; the hand as an instrument of mind now reintroduced into the world in a modest little monograph of seventy-two pages, from which we may date the beginning of experimental medicine."


Sir David Gill, astronomer royal in South Africa, has retired—Dr. Wilhelm Waldeyer, professor of anatomy at Berlin, and secretary of the Berlin Academy of Sciences, has celebrated his seventieth birthday.—The sum of about $5,000 has been subscribed for the foundation for the advancement of geographical study in honor of Dr. von Neumayer.—Advantage will be taken of the twentieth anniversary of the isolation of fluorine to present a gold medal to M. Moissan.—In acknowledgment of his work in metallurgical research, Professor Henry M. Howe, of Columbia University, has received from the Russian emperor the order of the Knighthood of St. Stanislas.

Dr. Sven Hedin, who by order of the government was denied access to Tibet from the side of India, is making good his entry into western Tibet from Chinese Turkestan.—Mr. Walter Wellman and Major Hersey have returned to this country. The former will go to Paris in six weeks to continue his supervision of the changes in his airship. Major Hersey will accompany the Chicago Record-Herald expedition in its attempt to reach the Pole next summer.—Captain Roald Amundsen sailed on November 8, on the Scandinavian-American steamer Hellig Olaf, for Christiania, where the records of his magnetic observations in the Arctic will be worked out. Captain Amundsen has presented his entire collection to the Norwegian government. The new king of Norway has conferred upon him the highest decoration of the kingdom, the grand cross and cordon of St. Olaf.

A scientific session of the National Academy of Sciences was held at the Harvard Medical School, Boston, beginning on Tuesday, November 20.—The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the twenty or more national scientific societies affiliated with it will meet in New York City during convocation week, beginning on December 27. It is expected that this will be the largest and most important meeting of scientific men ever held in America.