Popular Science Monthly/Volume 77/December 1910/The Progress of Science

The Rice Institute.



In 1891 the late William M. Rice, a native of Massachusetts, who emigrated to Texas and there amassed a large fortune, selected a board of six trustees, and to them made over the sum of two hundred thousand dollars, the foundation of future philanthropies. At his further instance these trustees immediately incorporated under the name of the William M. Rice Institute, for the advancement of literature, science and art, and with the founder serving as a member of the self-perpetuating board undertook to administer the property of the institute until his death, and then—according to his wish, not before—to take up the organization of an institution of higher education open and free to the white inhabitants of Houston. When the donor died in 1900 the corporation was named as the residuary legatee of his estate; this bequest together with the original endowment and several generous gifts made during his lifetime make up the institute's present foundation of ten million dollars. Prolonged litigation established his will and the security of the foundation upon which the trustees were to begin the work of organization by placing its direction in the hands of Dr. Edgar Odell Lovett, called from the chair of astronomy at Princeton University. The task at hand was the planning of a non-sectarian institution which should look toward embracing eventually all the functions and activities of a university, but in which at the outset the interests of science should predominate; on the instructional side there was to be no upper limit, the lower limit being defined by the necessity of articulating with the best public high schools and preparatory schools of the south and the southwest; upon the investigational side where emphasis was to be laid, the direction of research in pure science and its applications was to be taken from the problems of material development peculiar to the south, commercial, industrial and agricultural; laboratories of biology, physics, chemistry, besides their use for purposes of instruction were to provide special facilities for research work by men of science, who should become identified with the institution. In effect, the terms of the charter, the will of the trustees, and every local consideration called for the establishment of a school of science, pure and applied, of university rank, wherein scientific studies were to be liberalized in an ever-increasing degree until with fuller means and ampler resources a university program, with all its complexities, might be entered upon.

By way of preparation for this work President Lovett made an extensive tour of investigation among the universities and higher educational establishments in this country and abroad, and upon his return attacked first the problem of planning a domicile worthy of the large endowment of the Rice Institute, and in keeping with its high aims and the character of its projected development. Striving to make a distinctive contribution to academic architecture in America, the trustees of the Rice Institute have boldly avowed their belief in the potency of a noble and impressive architecture as an inspiration to the youth who live and study within its shadow.

The solution of the problem was entrusted to Messrs. Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson, of Boston and New York, supervising architects of the institute, who prepared a block plan indicating the most effective use of the three-hundred-acre campus lying along the! boulevard extension of Houston's principal street, and designating the position of all future buildings; in those three comprised in the first construction—the Administration Building, the Mechanical Laboratory and the Power House—the architects have suggested a style of treatment which will be reflected in all future construction. This style is not one easy to characterize, for in it are borrowings from many southern types; reminiscent of the medieval work of Italy, southern France and northern Spain, the influence of the east and the new world's Spanish missions is not less apparent; the round Byzantine arch serves to impart a scholastic tone to the whole architecture which none the less retains a quality distinctively American and American of the southwest rather than of the north. In the blending of these southern types full advantage has been taken of local climatic conditions; bright, warm skies have prompted a freer use of color than would be hazarded in a severer climate; open courts bounded by cloister walks, while fostering an academic atmosphere, ward off the sun and give easy access to every wandering breeze from the south. Another local condition, the excellent quality of brick available had weight in the selection of a building material which would lend itself readily to the effects sought. The light pink brick of native clay seemed especially suitable to a local adaptation of the admirable brick work of northern Italy; this brick will be used, therefore, extensively and with pink Ozark marble will establish the prevailing color tone.

The Administration Building, so called because eventually its function will be the housing of the various administrative offices, will, at the outset, be put to more academic uses, and will contain besides the offices of the president, registrar and bursar, the great hall or assembly room, the library and a number of lecture halls, seminar and class rooms. Lying across the principal axis of the campus and facing the entrance from the Main Street Boulevard, the Administration Building is approached by a long driveway lined with stately trees and flanked by broad lawns. Its sally-port gives access to an inner court richly gardened and planted with cypresses, and walled in by the cloisters of surrounding buildings. As the principal building on the campus and the most conspicuous, it has been given a pronounced richness of color and finish; special pink tile matching the brick are extensively used in the face work; beneath the projecting marble cornice glazed tile of blue color form a frieze; and in the façades small shafts, columns and inlays of many colored foreign marbles discreetly accent the dominant color tone.

At some distance from the Administration Building and closing another long vista from Main Street Boulevard, the Mechanical Laboratory and the Power House, surmounted by a lofty campanile, form the extreme boundary of the proposed science group, and the nucleus for its immediate development. The laboratory itself contains on the first floor the necessary offices for professors in charge, two large laboratory rooms and a thorough system of lockers; upon the second floor two large drafting rooms and three lecture halls. Communicating with the laboratory in the rear, a large machine shop connects it with the Power House, which will supply light, heat, power and water to the entire campus.

The next construction will include two more laboratories in the planning of which, as in the Mechanical Laboratory, assistance was received from an advisory committee consisting of Professor Ames, director of the physical laboratory of Johns Hopkins University; Professor Conklin, director of the biological laboratory of Princeton University; Professor Richards, chairman of the department of chemistry, Harvard University, and Professor Stratton, director of the National Bureau of Standards.


The National Academy of Sciences is meeting in St. Louis as this issue of the Monthly goes to press; the American Association for the Advancement of Science, with a number of affiliated societies, will hold its convocation week meeting in Minneapolis at the end of December. The National Academy has only once before since its foundation in 1863 held a meeting west of the Atlantic seaboard. This meeting was at Chicago in the autumn of 1903 and was fully as successful as the autumn meetings in eastern cities. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has been more national in the range of its meetings, having in 1901 gone as far west as Denver and in 1905 as far south as New Orleans. It met in St. Louis in 1903, in Madison in 1893 and in Minneapolis in 1883. Some of the affiliated societies which last year met with the association will not go to Minneapolis, there being scientific meetings in Ithaca, New Haven, Princeton and Pittsburgh. Still the number of scientific men in the middle west is now so large that a successful meeting at Minneapolis is assured. The University of Minnesota is one of the great state institutions; in recent years it has had a notable growth, and its future is assured by the immense fund which the state holds for educational purposes.

The fact that scientific men and their leaders are no longer concentrated on the eastern seaboard is indicated by the residences of the retiring and the incoming presidents of the American Association—President Jordan on the Pacific coast and Professor Michelson in Chicago. A statistical study of the origin and distribution of American men of science, recently made by the editor of this journal and published in the issues of Science for November 4 and 11, shows that the central and western states now possess a fair proportion of our leading scientific men and that they produce even more than they retain. The thousand leading scientific men of the country were selected by asking ten eminent men of science in each of twelve sciences to arrange those who had done research work in the order of the value of their work.

Of these leading scientific men there were in Boston 126, in New York 120 and in Washington 109. These three cities remain our chief scientific centers, but none the less there has been a significant westward movement in recent years. The list referred to has been made up twice, and it is possible to give the changes which have taken place in four years. In this short period the University of Chicago has gained nine men, the University of Illinois eleven and the University of Wisconsin twelve.

Even more significant is-a consideration of the origin of the 238 men who have attained scientific standing between the compilation of the two lists and obtain for the first time this year a place among the thousand. Massachusetts has the highest birthrate of scientific men now as before, but it has sunk from 109 per million of its population to 85. The productivity has fallen in every one of the Atlantic states, from 47 to 36 in New York, from 42 to 17 in New Jersey, from 23 to 19 in Pennsylvania and from 38 to 13 in Maryland. On the other hand, it has increased in all but one of the north central states, from 36 to 74 in Michigan, which state now stands next to Massachusetts as a center for the production of scientific men.

Most of the north central states do not as yet retain the men whom they produce. Thus twice as many have been born in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana as reside in those states. Still the fact that in the course of four years the states of Illinois and Wisconsin have increased their scientific men of standing by 27, while New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have lost 23, is significant not only of what has happened but also of what is likely to happen in the course of the next two or three decades. As civilization moves westward, these great north central states may be for a time the chief scientific center of the country; and not only this, for it is quite possible that they may become the chief intellectual and artistic center of the world.


The articles referred to contain a large mass of statistics in regard to the origin and distribution of our scientific men. The 238 men who have attained scientific standing within recent years fill the places left vacant by those who have died and of those who have failed to maintain their position among the thousand. Only one foreign man of science has come to this country of such distinction that he would surely have deserved a place on the previous list, whereas ten have returned to their native countries. Six women have been added, and the total number of women on the list is 18, two of whom are among the second hundred. Those who have obtained places on the list are nearly all between 30 and 45 years of age. There are none over 55; but one over 45 reaches a place as high as the fifth hundred. Only six are under 30, and this fact seems to indicate a lack of men of genius, who as a rule demonstrate their ability at an early age.

Harvard has a dominant position in the education of these men and in retaining them as instructors. It has given its bachelor's degree to 20 and its doctor's degree to 27, and 22 are on its teaching staff. Chicago stands next to Harvard, having an equal number of doctors and having 13 of the men among its instructors. Yale follows Harvard and Chicago both in regard to the men it has educated and the men it has retained. These three institutions are followed by the Johns Hopkins and Cornell in the number of degrees conferred and by Wisconsin and the Johns Hopkins in the number of instructors. The colleges of the eastern states have been less productive of scientific men than the technical schools or the colleges of the state universities.

There are 201 men still living who have failed to maintain their places among the thousand. Of these 49 reside in the state of New York. There, as in the other Atlantic states south of New England, the immense wealth appears to be unfavorable to scientific research.

The gain or loss of position of each man is known. Those under forty are likely to gain and those over this age are likely to lose. The average age of the 1,000 scientific men is 48 years; the average age of the first hundred is 54.8 years. The average age for the bachelor degree is 22.2 years and for the doctorate of philosophy, 28.4 years.

Three fourths of all our scientific men earn their living by teaching, about one tenth in the government service and about one twentieth by applied science. There are only eleven scientific men of standing who may be classed as amateurs, whereas in Great Britain this class is responsible for a considerable part of the research work which is accomplished.

Of our thousand leading scientific men 80 are at Harvard, 48 at Columbia and the same number at Chicago, 38 at Yale, 35 at Cornell, 34 at the Johns Hopkins and 30 at Wisconsin. One half of all the instructors at Clark are among our leading men of science, whereas in certain institutions there is but one in fifty. The institutions which stand the highest are Clark, the Johns Hopkins, Chicago, Stanford, Bryn Mawr, Harvard, Wesleyan, Case and Princeton. These institutions have at least one scientific man of

Sir William Crookes,
the eminent chemist, recently appointed a member of the British Order of Merit.

William Henri Brewer.

Professor Brewer in 1910. standing among each ten instructors. The five institutions that have the best record are of comparatively recent establishment; they have given a relatively more prominent position to science than the older institutions and have selected better men. At certain other institutions the ratios are: Yale, 10.6; Michigan, 12.3; Wisconsin, 13.2; Columbia, 13.3; Cornell, 16.5; California, 21.3; Pennsylvania, 25.2.


Until the establishment of the Johns Hopkins University in 1876, Harvard and Yale were our chief centers of scientific research and productive scholarship. We are losing one after the other the men who gave distinction to these universities. Yale has mourned the death of Dana, Loomis, Newton, Gibbs, Marsh and Johnson, and now in the death of William Henry Brewer one of the few remaining links with the past is severed. He belonged to a generation and to a type of university professor which scarcely survive. The man of the world is now likely to be found in the university chair as elsewhere, leaving small space for the naive and the unconventional. Professor Brewer in his Library. Brewer was born on a farm eighty-two years ago; he graduated with the first class of the Yale scientific school; he studied with Liebig before studying abroad had become usual; in 1858 he became professor of chemistry and geology at Washington College. From 1860 to 1864 Brewer served on the California State Survey and was during the latter part of this period professor of natural science in the University of California. He always looked back with special interest to these years. He was associated with King. Whitney and others in exploring the Sierras, one of whose peaks is named in his honor. At this time the "Botany of California" was prepared.

In 1864 Brewer began his long service as professor of agriculture in the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University. In addition to the work of his chair, he was indefatigable in investigation and exploration, in lecturing and in attendance at scientific gatherings, being rarely absent even to the end of his life from the semiannual meetings of the National Academy of Sciences.


We record with regret the deaths of David Pearce Penhallow, professor of botany in McGill University, and of Professor Melchior Treub, for twentynine years director of the Buitenzorg Botanical Garden in Java.

The Nobel Prize in medicine for 1910 has been awarded to Dr. Albrecht Kossel, professor of physiology at Heidelberg.—For his researches on the determination of atomic weights the Royal Society has awarded the Davy medal to Dr. Theodore W. Richards, professor of chemistry at Harvard University.—The Harben Lectures of the Royal Institute of Public Health, of London, for 1912, will be given by Dr. Simon Flexner, of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York.

On the occasion of the recent celebration of the Mexican centenary a statue of Friedrich Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt, who more than one hundred years ago made his journey of research through Mexico, was unveiled.—It is proposed to erect in the new chemical building of the University of Michigan a bronze tablet in memory of Dr. Albert B. Prescott, for many years director of the chemical laboratory.—A drinking fountain has been erected at the Central Experiment Farm, Canada, in memory of Dr. James Fletcher, former Dominion entomologist and botanist.—The classification and cataloguing of the Simon Newcomb Library, the acquirement of which by the College of the City of New York has been announced, has been completed. This collection of 4,000 volumes and 6,000 pamphlets, was presented by Mr. John Claflin.

The hospital of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research was opened on October 17. There were no special ceremonies, but a number of guests were present to inspect the hospital. At the same time it was announced that Mr. Rockefeller had given securities valued at $3,820,000 for the endowment of the institute, and that its organization had been completed.—At the celebration of the centenary of the University of Berlin Emperor William made an address, in the course of which he said that the occasion seemed to be peculiarly appropriate for a fresh movement towards the completion of Humboldt's aims. Humboldt's scheme required, in addition to the Academy of Sciences and the University, independent institutions for research. The plan had been communicated only to a small circle, but already sums amounting to between nine and ten millions of Marks, had been forthcoming. It would be the care of his government to see that the new foundations did not lack state assistance.