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



At the New Orleans meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science the council voted that in addition to the regular winter meeting, a summer meeting should be held at Ithaca, N. Y., from June 29 to July 3. For such an experiment, and the holding of more than one meeting a year is avowedly an experiment, the place is well chosen. Ithaca is a university town and well adapted by climate and situation for a summer meeting. The campus, where these sessions will be held, is green and well shaded. It is nearly 1,000 feet above sea level and overlooks from a height of 400 feet one of the most famous and beautiful of the lakes of central New York.

In the immediate neighborhood of Ithaca are many places of scenic as well as scientific interest. At Taughannock, about eight miles away, a water fall, 215 feet in height, plunges into an amphitheater the forest-topped walls of which rise vertically more than 300 feet above the bed of the stream. Lucifer Falls at Enfield about the same distance and numerous other cataracts in the glens formed by the tributaries of Cayuga Lake are also of great interest and beauty. The local committee is arranging for various short excursions to these places and also one to the widely known sociological colony—the George Junior Republic. Some of the sections are planning to devote their meetings exclusively to field work and excursions. Papers will be read and discussions held at the places visited during the excursions.

On Thursday evening. June 28. there will be an informal smoker at the Town and Gown Club of Ithaca. On Friday afternoon, June 29, the new Physics Laboratory of Cornell University—Rockefeller Hall—will be opened and several well-known men of science will speak. On Monday evening, July 2, a public address, by Professor J. C. Branner, of Stanford University, on 'The Great California Earthquake,' under the auspices of the society of the Sigma Xi will commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the founding of that organization. Other public lectures will be given by President David Starr Jordan, of Stanford University, on 'The San Francisco Disaster'; by Professor Henry S. Carhart, of the University of Michigan, on 'The South African Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science,' and by Major General George W. Davis, U.S.A., on 'The Great Canals of the World.'

In addition to the usual meetings of sections, a number of special societies will hold sessions in conjunction with the American Association. Among these are the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education, the American Physical Society, the American Chemical Society, the Society for Chemical Industry and the American Microscopical Society.

As has been said the holding of a summer as well as a winter meeting of the association is an experiment, but it is an experiment which should have the active cooperation of all those who are interested in the advancement and diffusion of science. Until 1902 the association met in the summer, and other scientific societies met in groups during the Christmas holidays. For a large and technical meeting, the winter is the best season, and a large city

Rockefeller Hall.: The New Physical Laboratory of Cornell University.

must be chosen. But ninny members of the association have regretted the abandonment of the summer meetings, which could be held in a university town or summer resort, when out-of door life and excursions are pleasant, and where old acquaintances and friends may be met and new ones made. The American Association has now more than twice as many members as in 1900, and it should be able to increase its service by holding meetings that will fill the needs of all. It is to lie hoped that those who believe that summer meetings are desirable or that the experiment should be tried will go to Ithaca. Whether the meeting is large or small, it will surely he interesting and enjoyable.


The fifty-seventh annual meeting of American Medical Association which began at Boston on June 5 was the largest and most notable in its history. There were about five thousand members in attendance; the scientific sessions improve from year to year, and the organization becomes more efficient and influential. Washington, New York and Boston are the three chief scientific centers of this country. Of the one thousand leading scientific men 119 are in Washington, 119 in New York and 85 in Boston-Cambridge. But historic continuity has been longest maintained at Boston, and it seems to lend itself better than any other city to a large scientific gathering. There the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Educational Association and now the American Medical Association have held their largest meetings. The governor of the Mate and the mayor of the city maintain the tradition of being gentlemen, while a welcome from President Eliot gives distinction to any gathering. The conditions in Boston are more nearly those of an English city, and the formal functions, the receptions and the garden parties pass off more smoothly and with less artificiality and aimlessness than in other American cities.

After the greetings of the opening session. Dr. Louis McMurtry, of Louisville, Ivy., the retiring president, introduced the president elect, Dr. William J. Mayo, of Rochester, Minn., who made the annual address. It was concerned mainly with the organization of the medical profession and its relations to the public, emphasizing, though perhaps unconsciously, the trades union character of the association. Among the topics reviewed were: the need of union to promote not only the interests of the profession, but also the welfare of the public; the function of the medical profession in enlightening the public in regard to sanitation, the dangers from poisonous nostrums and the need of compulsory vaccination; the improvement of the army and navy medical departments; the supervision of medical schools and reciprocity in medical licenses; the relations of physicians to the insurance companies, contract practise, and hospital abuse by patients who are able to pay; the financial position of the physician and the evil of accepting commissions from specialists; the strained relations between medicine and pharmacy. In conclusion Dr. Mayo said: "The vital need of the medical profession is a harmonious organization—an organization that will encourage right thinking and good usage among ourselves, help to secure needed medical reforms, compel redress of grievances and promote and encourage the highest interests of its individual members: and in this lies the future usefulness of the profession as a whole."

The organization of the association has resulted in the 'house of delegates,' representing the medical profession through the states. The county medical societies unite in a state society and the state societies in the national association. The subjects

The New Buildings of the Harvard Medical School.

discussed in the sessions of the house of delegates were largely those referred to in the address of the president. The strength of the association is indicated by the fact that it has nearly 25.000 members and an annual income of about $275,000. Its Journal is an important factor in organization and in the advancement of medical science.

For the presentation and discussion of scientific papers the association is divided into numerous sections. The programs at Boston were better than ever before, but the papers were very diverse in method and uneven in value. The scientific exhibits were unusually good, and were seen to much advantage in the new Harvard medical buildings, themselves an exhibit of unsurpassed importance.


The new buildings of the Harvard Medical School are beautiful beyond illustration or description. They are a renaissance and reincarnation of the spirit of Greek simplicity, dignity and perfection. It is probable that there are no other academic or public buildings in America having equal distinction and beauty. This, at least, was the impression made on the present writer, in spite of garden parties and unkempt surroundings. This opinion, if conferred by competent judges, deserves special emphasis, because the laboratories and lecture-rooms have not been put into buildings designed to look well, but the buildings were made for their uses in accordance with plans of members of the Harvard medical faculty. The thanks of all men of science are due to the architects, Messrs. Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge.

Professor Minot proposed the 'unit system' and Professor Porter the arrangement of two wings with a common lecture-room and library. The unit adopted for the laboratories is 23 x 30 feet, accommodating 24 students. Each unit has three windows and can be subdivided into two or three rooms. The smaller rooms for individual research are also divided into mezzonine storeys. The windows extend to the ceilings, giving abundant light, and the architectural effects are in some measure due to the piers of pilasters between the windows. The buildings can be extended by adding new units, and would finally form courts.

The arrangement of the buildings is shown in the illustration and by the ground plan. The administration building contains offices, common-rooms, lecture-rooms and the Warren Museum with an area of 22,000 square feet. The laboratories are for anatomy and histology, physiology and physiological chemistry, pharmacology and hygiene and bacteriology and pathology, each pair having a common amphitheater and library. The arrangements for heating, ventilation, refrigerating, etc., are very complete.

The large cost of these buildings appears to be justified, as the money was given for them and might be charged to the city of Boston and the people of the country as well as to medical education. It is said that the gray marble added only three per cent, to the cost. The buildings do not, however, provide for clinical work, and as there are altogether only 287 students in the school, the rent to be charged to each student is in the neighborhood of $.500. The number of students will, however, increase. The need of four similar amphitheaters, each seating 265 students is not clear. They may be built for the future, but the future may show the futility of lecturing to large audiences of medical students. Here the unit system seems to be lacking where it was especially needed. Still less evident is the desirability of four separate libraries which will apparently be both expensive and inconvenient. But the fundamental criticism which must be made is the permanent separation of the medical school from the rest of the university. It appears to the present writer that Harvard has done great harm to itself and to education by 'segregating both in time and space the work in medical science. It requires the bachelor's degree for entrance to the medical school, whereas if the sciences preliminary to medicine were carried on at the college, the liberal studies would become less aimless and the professional studies more liberal. The separation of liberal studies, professional work and research does injury to each.


The Phi Beta Kappa address given by Mr. Charles Francis Adams at Columbia University has been printed in the daily papers of more than one city, with abundant editorial comment and letters from correspondents. This means that the address was concerned with an interesting problem or, at all events, attacked a problem in an interesting way. Mr. Adams is alleged to have said when engaged in writing a book upon Puritan life, "I never have been so happy as during the last year; I have been destroying people's ideals." At all events he confesses in the present address to 'a decided lack of faith in ideals.' The iconoclasm is entertaining, and it may be profitable, but apart from the characteristically personal form of expression it is not new. Neither is the remedy new though it is claimed as such in Touchstone's words: 'An ill-favored thing, sir, but mine own.'

Mr. Adams became academically famous in 1883 by another Phi Beta Kappa address on 'The College Fetich,' namely. Greek. He now finds that there are things in colleges that are worse than Greek, namely, the elective system. which lie calls crude, ill-considered, thoroughly unscientific and extremely mischievous.' The address may be fairly represented by the concluding paragraph, which reads:

"For him who graduated half a century ago, the game is now either won to a degree or irretrievably lost. But, reviewing his record, he is apt to see with great distinctness the nature of the game, and wherein his play was defective, wherein correct. For myself, thus retrospecting, I am constrained to say that, as a training place for the game in which I was to take a hand, the college of the period—and Harvard stood first among them—viewed as a mental gymnasium, was ill-adapted to existing conditions, unsympathetic, and, as respects organization, already distinctly outgrown. In the matter of intellectual training, it was a period of transition—the system of prescribed studies was yielding to a theory of electives. So far as it had then been developed and applied, the new system proved in my experience a delusion, a pitfall, and a snare. My observation, as I said in the beginning, leads me to apprehend that conditions in these respects have not since changed for the better. The old organization yet lumbers along; the implicit belief in the pursuit of aptitudes on lines of least resistance is in fullest vogue. Could I, on the contrary, have my way, I would now break our traditional academic system into fragments, as something which had long since done its work and is now quite outgrown; and I would somehow get back to the close contact of mind upon mind. I would to a large extent do away with this arms-length lecture-room education for the college period. I would develop an elective system based on scientific principles, and the study of the individual: properly regulated, it should be intelligently applied. I would prescribe one of the classic tongues, Greek or Latin, as a compulsory study to the day of graduation, the one royal road to a knowledge of all that is finest in letters and art. 1 would force every student to reason closely all through his college days; while no man not trained to observe, and equal to tests in observation, should receive a degree. Beyond this I would let the student elect.


The Bureau of the Census has issued a special report on statistics of mortality from 1000 to 1004. which gives important information in regard to the prevalence of certain diseases.

Tuberculosis of the lungs and pneumonia were by far the leading causes of death. The average annual mortality from tuberculosis of the lungs, or consumption was 172.6 per 100.000 of population. The rate has shown a marked decline since 1890, when it was 245.4. The mortality from this disease in the registration area in the United States is lower than it is in Ireland, Germany, Norway, Spain and Switzerland, but higher than in England and Wales, Scotland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.

Pneumonia was second among the principal causes of death, the average annual rate being 165.6 per 100,000 of population. In the registration states the mortality from pneumonia was about 50 per cent, higher in the cities than in the rural districts.

Heart disease was third among the leading causes of death, the average annual rate in the registration area for the five years being 120.9 per 100,000 of population.

Among the leading causes of death, diarrhoea and enteritis were fourth, the average annual mortality from this disease for the five years being 113.1 per 100,000. Over 80 per cent, of the deaths from these diseases were deaths of children under 5 years of age, and over 65 per cent, of children under 1 year of age. The average annual death rate from these diseases was about 75 per cent, higher in the cities than in the rural districts.

The average annual death rate from typhoid fever in the registration area was 33. S per 100,000 of population. Of the ten European countries for which similar statistics are available Italy alone shows a higher. The mortality from typhoid fever was excessively high in Pittsburg, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Louisville and Washington. The average annual rate was much below the average in New York City, St. Paul, Milwaukee, and Jersey City.


Dr. A. Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, has been given the doctorate of laws by the University of Edinburgh.—The United States ambassador to Great Britain, Mr. Whitelaw Reid, has presented the gold medal of the American Geographical Society to Captain R. X. Scott, commander of the National Antarctic Expedition.—Dr. Joseph D. Bryant, of New York City, has been elected president of the American Medical Association.—At the recent International Medical Congress at Lisbon, the Moscow prize was awarded to M. Laveran and the Paris prize to Professor Ehrlich.

The International Congress of Applied Chemistry at Rome resolved that the seventh congress shall be held in London, with Sir William Ramsay as the president and Sir Henry Roscoe as honorary president.—The sixteenth International Medical Congress will be held at Buda Pesth in 1909, under the presidency of Professor C. Müller. It is likely that the following congress will be held in New York City.

The Prince of Monaco has offered to give his Museum of Oceanography and Laboratory for the Investigation of the Seas, now at Monaco, to the city of Paris, with an endowment of $1,000,000. The institution is to be under the charge of an international committee.—It is announced that Mr. David Rankin, of St. Louis, has decided to give $2,000,000 to found an industrial and manual training school in St. Louis.—Arrangements have been completed, under a plan outlined by Alfred Mosely, to send, between November and March, five hundred British teachers to the United States and Canada to study the educational systems of the two countries.