Open main menu

Popular Science Monthly/Volume 71/October 1907/The Progress of Science

PSM V71 D384 Alexander Agassiz.png

Mr. Alexander Agassiz.
President of the Seventh International Zoological Congress.

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE INTERNATIONAL ZOOLOGICAL CONGRESS

The Seventh International Zoological Congress, held at Boston on August 19-24, was probably a greater success than its promoters had ventured to hope. Although it may have seemed inappropriate to hold it anywhere but in, or close to, Agassiz's famous museum at Cambridge, all disappointment on this score was quickly forgotten upon reaching the magnificent new buildings of the Harvard Medical School. Rarely had zoologists been so splendidly housed; and never, perhaps, had they received more openhanded hospitality from the people among whom they had chosen to meet. The attendance at the congress was very large, including distinguished workers from Japan, Russia, Austria, etc., with large delegations from Germany, France and England. No single man can sum up the achievements represented by the assembly, but counting work instead of heads, it is possible that as much as one fourth of the total zoological strength of the world was represented. The papers and addresses, as at all such gatherings, were of all degrees of interest and importance; but it is certainly true that many noteworthy contributions were offered. Perhaps the greatest enthusiasm was aroused by Bateson's address on problems connected with heredity. The whole subject of genetics, as Bateson calls it, was very much to the front, and anything in reference to it was eagerly received. Tower, of Chicago, the author of the remarkable researches on the potato-beetle and its allies, was present; and Shull's account of his experiments with the "elementary species" of shepherd's purse was welcomed, though actually botanical. It is an interesting sign of the times that a paper dealing exclusively with plants should be considered appropriate at a zoological congress; an indication that biology is again coming to be studied in a broad way, and that one can not afford to ignore either animals or plants, when dealing primarily with the one or the other.

At the general meetings, held at Jordan Hall, it was a keen pleasure to see and hear such standard bearers of the science as Hertwig, Murray and Brooks, not to speak of Alexander Agassiz, the president of the congress. At the last general meeting the report of the committee on nomenclature was unanimously adopted, and thus some matters of importance, which had long been in dispute, were at length settled, so far as they can be by such means.

Several excursions were arranged for the members of the congress. One to the Arnold Arboretum gave the foreigners an opportunity of seeing a fine series of living American trees; while the geneticologists, if one may so call them, were glad to be conducted by Professor Sargent through his plantation containing species of thorns. Another party was conducted to the place where extensive experiments are being made in rearing the parasites of the gypsy moth, and all who saw this work came back with enthusiastic accounts of it. On another day the congress was entertained at Wellesley College; while on Saturday a visit was made to Harvard University, where President Eliot and Mr. Agassiz made brief speeches explaining the history and nature of Harvard University in general and the Museum of Comparative Zoology in particular.

At the termination of the Boston

 
PSM V71 D386 Members of the international zoological congress.png
Members of the International Zoological Congress
 

 
PSM V71 D387 At the harvard medical school.png
At the Harvard Medical School.
 

week the congress went to Woods Holl, where they were shown all that the laboratories held. A pleasing feature of this visit was the reading of a letter from Dr. Dohrn, of the Naples Zoological Station, regretting his inability to be present, and the sending to him of a warm message of regard, signed by all in attendance. In the afternoon of Sunday the members embarked on the Fishhawk, on their way to New York, a sample dredging being made so that all might see the method employed by the Bureau of Fisheries in exploring the local waters.

The excursion was continued in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, the members being elaborately entertained in each city, with special reference to the scientific and zoological interests. Thus in New York a day each was devoted to Columbia University, the American Museum of Natural History, the Station for Experimental Evolution of the Carnegie Institution at Cold Spring Harbor, New York, the Zoological Park and a trip up the Hudson to Garrison as guests of Professor Osborn. On Saturday there were trips to Yale and Princeton. On Monday and Tuesday in Philadelphia the members visited the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Zoological Garden, the American Philosophical Society and the University of Pennsylvania. At Washington the visitors, were welcomed by Secretary Wilson and shown under the most favorable auspices the vast work being accomplished for science by the national government. A trip to Niagara Falls and the University of Toronto completed the excursion, which had been remarkably well arranged and with which the foreign delegates expressed themselves as more than pleased.

 

THE WEALTH OF THE UNITED STATES

The census office has issued a report of more than 1,200 quarto pages containing a vast amount of information in regard to the wealth, debt and taxation of the country in 1904. The total wealth is placed at about 107 billion dollars, as compared with 88 billion in 1900, 65 billion in 1890 and 43 billion in 1880. The per capita wealth is now $1,318. and the annual increase not far from $40 per year. While the per capita wealth of Great Britain, France and Australia is

PSM V71 D388 Per capita wealth for each state and territory 1904.png

Per Capita Wealth for each State and Territory, 1901.

PSM V71 D389 Total debt of the united states 1870 1902.png

slightly larger, the total wealth of the United States surpasses by far that of any other country. The per capita distribution, as shown on the map, will surprise some readers. It is over $5,000 in Nevada, and over $2,500 in California and Montana, whereas it is under $2,000 in New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. It is greater in Iowa than in Pennsylvania or Illinois. The form of wealth is in round numbers distributed as follows: Real property and improvements, 63 billion dollars: live-stock and farm implements, 3 billion dollars; manufacturing machinery, 3 billion; gold and silver bullion, 2 billion; railways, 11 billion; street-railways, etc., 5 billion; manufactured products, etc., 18 billion.

The total national, state and municipal debt of the country in 1902 was about two billion, seven hundred and ninety million dollars, or $35.50 per capita. This is an increase of about SOO million dollars since 1890, but a decrease as compared with 1880. The accompanying chart shows the distribution of this debt, the most striking fact being the steady decrease in the debt of the national government and the increase in municipal debts. This is of course a gratifying change, the national debt being due to the cost of war, and municipal debt in the main to improvements of lasting value. The per capita national debt has decreased from $60.46 in 1870 to $11.77 in 1902. As the rate of interest has very greatly decreased, the burden of the national debt on each individual is now comparatively slight. It would, however, seem to be only the prudence that is expected from each citizen for the whole nation to pay its debt without undue delay. It is a question whether it would not be wiser for municipalities to invest their savings in improvements rather than to contract debts, but this is an open question, as it is reasonable to expect future years, and even future generations, to pay for advantages that may be bequeathed to them. The report contains a very elaborate discussion of the taxation and revenue systems of the United States and of the several states. In 1902, the total expenditures of the national government were about 617 million dollars; of the states and territories, about 85 million; of the counties, 197 million; of the cities 551 million, and of other minor civil divisions 222 million. The receipts from revenues almost exactly balance the expenditures.

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS

We record with regret the death of Dr. William Thomson, an eminent ophthalmologist of Philadelphia, and of Dr. Gaylord P. Clark, dean of the college of Medicine and professor of physiology at Syracuse University.

Professor Ludwig von Graff will be president of the eighth Zoological Congress, which is to be held at Graz three years hence.—Professor J. J. Stevenson, of New York University, and Professor W. M. Davis, of Harvard University, were delegates from the Geological Society of America to the centennial celebration of the foundation of the Geological Society of London, which took place at the end of September.

Dr. E. Ray Lankester will retire from the directorship of the Natural History Museum, London, in October. It is understood that the inadequate pension originally proposed by the trustees has been about doubled. The trustees have decided not to appoint a new director, though it is possible that this plan may be changed.—At the Meudon Experiment Station, which is affiliated with the Collège de France, M. Daniel Berthelot has been appointed director of the laboratory for plant physics, and M. Muntz, director of the laboratory for plant chemistry.—By an act of the last legislature, the professor of geology at the State University of Colorado became also, by virtue of his office, the state geologist. $5,000 is appropriated annually for this service.

Yale University has received a bequest calling to mind that of Smithson for the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution. Archibald Henry Blount, an Englishman, who is not known to have been in America or to have had any conection with Yale University, has made that institution his residuary legatee, to which it will profit to the extent of about $400,000. Yale University has also received $150,000 for a lecture hall for the Sheffield Scientific School. This is a gift of Mrs. James B. Oliver, in memory of her son, a former student of the school, who was recently killed in an automobile accident.