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



There was laid recently the corner stone of the library building to be erected at the University of Chicago as a memorial to William Rainey Harper, the first president of the university. Dr. Harper died on January-10, 1906, and shortly thereafter it was decided to secure a fund for a library to be named in his honor. Mr. John D. Rockefeller offered to contribute $600,000 on condition that $200,000 should be given by others, and this amount had been made up by more than 2,000 subscribers.

Under existing conditions in the United States the president of a university has great power and great responsibility; and these are multiplied when he presides over a newly established institution. President White at Cornell, President Gilman at the Johns Hopkins, President Jordan at Stanford, President Hall at Clark, have all impressed their personalities on the institutions whose foundations they laid; but no one has done so more completely than President Harper at Chicago. He was a scholar and at the same time an efficient executive officer of the modern type. It is probable that the machinery of university administration has become too complicated and that we should fare better if there were less concentration of power in the hands of one man; but President Harper certainly showed remarkable skill and energy in the establishment and conduct of a university. Apart from the financial side, where the difficulties were great, he introduced certain educational features, such as continuing the sessions throughout the year and concentrating the courses in a single term, and above all deserves honor for having called to the university leaders in scholarship and science, so that Chicago equals Columbia and is surpassed only by Harvard in the number of men I of high standing on its faculties.

It has been suggested that a chapel or a hall for ancient languages might with equal propriety have been erected as a memorial to Dr. Harper. Such buildings would perhaps form more suitable memorials than libraries and laboratories, as they can be naturally built in classic or gothic style and are not likely to require alterations or enlargements.

The whole problem of the relation of architectural features to educational uses is complicated. It is desirable for every city to have fine and distinctive buildings, and it is well that libraries and universities should have dignified and worthy settings. The buildings of the Harvard Medical School in Boston and of the Union Theological Seminary in New York City are certainly worth to the community what they cost. It is in a way desirable that the Library of Congress and the Public Library should be the most magnificent buildings in Washington and New York.

But there is another side to this question. It seems unfitting to adapt the needs of a library or laboratory to inherited architectural forms, and to limit their light and growth and usefulness by bricks and stones. The adornments of our college campuses are likely to become monstrosities in the course of a generation. We should plan buildings suited to our needs, and their beauty would then be permanent. The unity of the university can best be symbolized by a single building and the universal application of the library by a central place in such a building. A modern university might have a

Philosophy History Law Harper Memorial Library Divinity Modern Languages Classics
North Front of Library Buildings (from model).
Classics Modern Languages Harper Memorial Library History Philosophy
South Front of Library Buildimgs (from sketch).

facade as fine as can be devised, with a great heater and other public halls. Back of this but part of it would be the real university buildings, capable of enlargement to the side and up and down. The lecture rooms and laboratories would be on the unit plan so that partitions could be readily taken out or put in. The library would be in the center, with its seminar rooms extending towards the different departments. Catacombs could be dug as more room was needed for the storage of books, and stories could be' added as the library and the university became larger.

The Harper Memorial Library, as shown in the illustrations, does to a certain extent follow this plan. It is to be surrounded by the halls for languages, philosophy and history. But the sciences with their department libraries are separated, and the whole university is scattered over a large area. Students must find hats and coats and travel from building to building to attend a lecture or to consult a book. The historic conditions of universities such as Harvard and Yale may make necessary their extension over an ever-wider territory, but it seems a pity that when universities must erect their buildings from the start, as has been necessary for Columbia and Chicago, there is not at hand sufficient artistic and educational imagination to plan a building that is beautiful because it best serves the purposes of a university.


The Department of Agriculture has issued a bulletin, compiled by Mr. Middleton Smith, of the Bureau of Statistics, which contains eighty-eight maps I showing graphically the production of crops and farm animals by the states and by the principal countries of the world. Several of these charts are here reproduced. The appeal made to the eye by graphic representation adds to the vividness and permanence of the impression, and such charts have considerable interest and educational value.

The agricultural products of this country are indeed so large that assistance


must be given to the imagination if their magnitude is to be appreciated. The corn crop of the United States for 1909 was valued at $1,720,000,000. So much money has not been spent on higher education and scientific research since the first university was established. Each day this crop grows, it increases in value by $14,000,000. An increase of six per cent, in the productivity of the corn crop, such as may result from a moderate amount of research work, perhaps from the efforts of a single man, would be worth a hundred million dollars a year.

Next to corn our most important crop is cotton, the value of which to the farmer last year was about $850,000,000. The United States produces about three fourths of the world's corn and about two thirds of its cotton.

Wheat, the value of which in 1909 at our farms was $725,000,000, is widely grown over the whole world, and the crop in this country is only one fifth of the total production. Russia, which follows 1 us closely, has about double the crop of France, which is nearly equaled by that of British India. It is a curious fact that we export more wheat than corn, and that the exports of corn have been decreasing. Canada and Argentina are large producers of wheat in proportion to their populations and are consequently large exporters. Only two per cent, of the area of this country is given to wheat, while the percentage is as high as 12 in France and Hungary and still higher in Italy and Roumania. As shown on the charts, the production of wheat in this country has more than doubled in a period of forty years. Kansas and Minnesota are the states now in the lead. New York and California produce less than I formerly.

The crops following wheat in importance are hay, oats and potatoes; there, is then a drop to tobacco and sugar, and a further drop to barley, flax, rice, rye and hops. The crops for 1909 were valued at $5,700,000,000, in increase over the preceding year of $869,000,000. These values are, however, in large measure due to increased prices, which have affected agricultural products even more than other commodities. The cost of corn, for example, is j more than double what it was ten years ago.

The animal products of the country in 1909 were valued at over $3,000,000,000. The prices here too have increased, but contrary probably to the general belief, much less rapidly than in the case of the cereals. Cattle at the farm have not increased in price in the course of ten years; the wholesale price of beef in New York City has increased 20 per cent, and the retail price 30 per cent.

It will surprise most people to note on the chart that there are in British India more cattle and more dairy cows than in the United States. Texas is followed by Iowa as a cattle-producing state, and New York by the same state in the number of dairy cows. Both the per capita consumption and the exports of meat are decreasing.


We regret to record the deaths of William Harmon Niles, emeritus professor of geology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; of Dr. Zdenko Ritter von Skraup, professor of chemistry at Vienna, and of M. Maurice Lévy, professor of mechanics in the College de France.

A bronze statue of Lord Kelvin by Mr, Bruce-Joy is to be erected at Belfast.—A monument in memory of Dr. Niels Finsen, to whom we owe the light treatment of lupus and other diseases, was recently unveiled at Copenhagen.—The original laboratory of Liebig in Giessen is to be purchased and preserved as a memorial to the eminent chemist. An anonymous donor has guaranteed 60,000 Marks for this purpose.

Sir William Ramsay has been elected president of the British Association for the meeting to be held next year at Portsmouth. The meeting of 1912 will be at Dundee. The meeting of 1914 will be held in Australia in the cities of Adelaide, Melbourne, Sidney and Brisbane. The commonwealth government has voted £10,000 toward the expenses of the meeting, and the several states will make additional contributions.

At Yale University the salaries of professors and assistant professors have been increased by $49,000 from the alumni fund. The salaries of full professors are to be $4,000 to $4,500 and $5,000, based mainly on length of service, but modified somewhat by university responsibility and personal distinction. In the case of assistant professors the maximum salary is increased to $3,000.