Popular Science Monthly/Volume 80/May 1912/The Progress of Science

1542671Popular Science Monthly Volume 80 May 1912 — The Progress of Science1912

The Academy of the Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.


The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia celebrated on March 19, 20 and 21 the centenary of its foundation, the last day being the actual date of the anniversary. On the first day Dr. S. G. Dixon, the president of the academy, gave a historical address and Dr. Edward J. Nolan, the secretary, gave reminiscences of the fifty years of his official connection with the academy. Delegates to the number of 147 presented letters, credentials and congratulations from the scientific and educational institutions which they represented. There was an important program of scientific papers. Dr. Dixon gave a reception on the second evening and on the third evening there was a banquet in the geological hall of the academy.

The centenary will be marked by the publication of a memorial volume, as well as the issue of a complete index of the academy publications, a work which has been under way for five years. The greatest memorial of the centenary, however, is the completion of the new buildings of the academy, which were temporarily put in shape for the celebration, but in whose new halls the great collections have not yet been fully installed. When finished, Philadelphia will possess in the group of buildings, which will face on one of the most important sections of the great Parkway, a museum of natural history admirably equipped in the way of collections, and in convenience of the exhibtion halls and of the research departments. Everything has been done by the president and the curators, utilizing the money appropriated by the state, to prepare a series of modern halls and rooms beautifully lighted both by day and by night, fireproof and meeting every demand of a modern museum. The result is an imposing group of buildings in brick, terra cotta and granite, with two entrances, one on Race Street, the principal entrance, and the other on Nineteenth Street, which gives access to the main service halls and the fine lecture room and the great library.

The new academy consists of three distinct buildings. The main buildings on Race Street, which replace the old historic centennial building of green-stone, is four stories high and is 184 feet long on Race Street, with a width of 64 feet. The first floor of this main building is given over to a large room with galleries supported by classic pillars, in which will be housed the great Vaux collection of minerals, and other mineralogical and geological treasures. Toward the Twentieth Street end, the valuable herbarium will be housed in the first and second stories, with the working rooms of the botanists arranged with the collections. In the archeological hall Mr. Clarence B. Moore's collection of Indian pottery will be the main feature, together with other collections relating to the history of 'mankind. Further south along the Nineteenth Street side are the lecture hall on the first floor and above it the great library and reading room. The book stacks are in the rear of the lecture hall, the reading room and the galleries, and run from the bottom to the top of the building. The library and lecture hall are really a separate building, protected by its construction from the menace of fire, its stacks representing the latest improvements and conveniences for the handling of the books.

On the second floor of the main building and the connecting wings there will be found the paleontological hall, 184 feet in length, with a width of 64 feet. This with its double galleries is the largest hall in the building. The connecting wing leading to the Nineteenth Street buildings will be given over to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey local collections, while the
Library of the Academy.

skeletons and mounted specimens of the mammals will be housed in the second story of the first building on Nineteenth Street, the third floor of which is given over to the large collection of birds. In the connecting wing of the third floor will be housed the entomological department, where over a million specimens will be kept in fireproof metal cases, free from dust and moth. The fourth floor of the Race Street building will house the fine exhibition of shells, while the rest of the fourth floor of the buildings will be given over to the very complete working rooms of the scientific staff.

Within the last twenty years, under the presidency of Dr. S. G. Dixon, from an institution largely supported by voluntary membership, the academy has become an endowed institution with an annual income which maintains its work. No state aid has been granted to the academy for maintenance, but in view of the fact that it is the repository of the state geological collections, of very great value, within the last few years generous appropriations have been made for rebuilding, the space in the new buildings of the academy more than quadrupling the space in the old greenstone building in which so much work was accomplished for the advancement of science.


The hands of death have fallen heavily on our scientific men during the past month. When, earlier in the year Professor Brush died, we realized that, however great the grief may be, it is the way of nature for one who has passed his eightieth year and completed his life's work. Rear Admiral Melville, too, died full of years and honor. But the other deaths have been of men in mid-career, who go leaving unfinished the tasks which they only could do. These are Professors Rotch and Sanger, of Harvard University; Professors Montgomery and Spangler, of the University of Pennsylvania; Professor Smith, of Rutgers College, and Professor Tarr, of Cornell University. The oldest of them was but fifty-four,
George Jarvis Brush.

Formerly professor of mineralogy in Yale University and director
of the Sheffield Scientific School.

the youngest thirty-nine. The scientific man, like others engaged in creative work, is likely to have his ideas early, but unlike the man of letters or the artist, he needs a full life to work them out. Science is long and slow, and becomes so increasingly with the accumulated heritage of knowledge.

Abbot Lawrence Rotch, dead after an operation for appendicitis at the age of fifty, was one of the few men of independent means in this country who have devoted themselves to science from love of the work. In 1906 he was given a partly honorary professorship at Harvard University, but twenty years before he had founded and had since directed the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory, from which have come important explorations of the upper air by kites and balloons. Charles Robert Sanger, born in 1860, was director of the chemical laboratory of Harvard College. In spite of the onerous executive and teaching duties of the office, he found time to carry on accurate researches on the detection of minute quantities of arsenic, antimony and fluorine and on the chlorine derivatives of silicon and sulphur.

Thomas Harrison Montgomery, who died from pneumonia, barely thirtynine years old, was in charge of zoology at the University of Pennsylvania, where there had just been completed under his direction a laboratory of zoology unsurpassed in the world. His researches on cellular structure and its relation to the phenomena of heredity and the determination of sex; on the activities, habits and development of spiders and birds; on the structure and development of various rotifers and insects and on the analysis of racial descent and of evolution, have been described in more than eighty monographs. Henry Wilson Spangler, like Montgomery, in charge of an important department of the University of Pennsylvania and of a large laboratory of mechanical engineering recently erected, died at the age of fifty-four. He was at the same time a distinguished engineer and a great teacher. John Bernhardt Smith, born in 1858, was entomologist of New Jersey and of the Experiment Station as well as professor in Rutgers College. He had done important systematic work, but is best known for his economic work, especially on the suppression of the mosquito. Ralph Stockman Tarr, forty-eight years old at the time of his death, was professor of physical geography at Cornell University. He was distinguished for his work in physiography and glacial geography.


Lord Lister bequeathed nearly the whole of his fortune to scientific institutions and hospitals, including $100,000 to the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine and $50,000 to the Royal Society.—Professor A. Lawrence Rotch has by his will given the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory with an endowment of $50,000 to Harvard University.

Dr. Ira Remsen has resigned the presidency of the Johns Hopkins University. It is understood, however, that he will retain the chair of chemistry which he has held since the opening of the institution in 1876.—Dr. George T. Moore has been elected director of the Missouri Botanical Garden to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Dr. William Trelease.

Sir J. J. Thomson has been appointed by King George V. a member of the order of merit. The other scientific men who are members of the order are Lord Rayleigh, Dr. A. R. Wallace and Sir William Crooks. The order has recently lost through death Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker and Lord Lister.—The second annual award of the Willard Gibbs Medal, founded by Mr. William A. Converse, will be made by the Chicago Section of the American Chemical Society on May 17, to Professor Theodore W. Richards, of Harvard University. It may be remembered that the initial award of this medal was made last May to Professor Svante Arrhenius.