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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 85/August 1914/The Progress of Science

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 85‎ | August 1914

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE MARINE BIOLOGICAL LABORATORY

Louis Agassiz established in 1873 a marine biological laboratory on the Island of Penikese in Buzzard 's Bay, south of Wood's Hole. Following his death the school was abandoned, but the plan was renewed in 1880 by the establishment of a seaside laboratory at Annisquam, in which Alpheus Hyatt was especially active. In 1888, the laboratory was reorganized and placed at Wood's Hole, where Spencer Baird had in 1881 established the marine laboratory of the U. S. Fish Commission. The natural advantages of fauna, climate and accessibility make Wood's Hole an ideal situation, and under the direction of C. O. Whitman a group of investigators gathered there in the summer who made the laboratory the chief center of biological research in this country and elsewhere only rivaled by Naples. After the death of Whitman, Professor Frank R. Lillie, of the University of Chicago, was made director, and later Professor Gilman A. Drew became assistant director, residing permanently at Wood's Hole. The laboratory has continued to grow in size and influence until last year there were 122 investigators and 69 students at work. If they were paid for their investigations at the rate other research institutions pay the cost would be more than half a million dollars a year.

As a matter of fact the laboratory has been conducted practically without endowment and with the simplest buildings and equipment. Some thirty universities and other institutions have cooperated in a modest way, but the work of the laboratory has been essentially a contribution of the biologists working there. There was urgent need of a fire-proof building that could remain open in the winter, and this has now been provided by Mr. Charles R. Crane, of Chicago, who in recent years has been the generous and sympathetic patron of the laboratory.

The building, an illustration of which is here shown, was planned by Mr. Charles Coolidge, of Boston, his designs being a gift to the laboratory, of which he has long been a trustee. The detailed arrangements are the result of much study with the help of many biologists and other laboratory men, and they have been admirably carried out by the assistant director, Dr. Drew. The building—50 X 90 feet—is constructed of tapestry brick with wide joints resting on a granite foundation, and trimmed with gray stone. It faces south on the Wood's Hole Harbor, about 150 feet away. The basement contains the chemical-supply room, janitor's quarters, heating plant, packing room and toilets. The first floor is. divided into research rooms for zoology and physiology. A library with shelving for 20,000 volumes occupies the south half of the second floor with accession and storage rooms. The remainder of the floor and the third floor are occupied by research rooms. The roof carries a tank house with two tanks for salt water of 10,000 gallons each. The. entire interior construction is of steel and reinforced concrete, with partitions of tile and granolithic floors, completely fire-proof.

The salt-water circulation is driven by electric automatically controlled motors, which open into two hard rubber pumps with a daily capacity of 75,000 gallons each. A gasolene engine is held in reserve in case of breakdown of the electric power service. The pipes and valves are all of lead, so that metallic contamination of the water can not possibly occur; the harbor water is

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New Building of the Marine Biological Laboratory.

of exceptional purity, owing to the strong tidal currents.

Each research room has a cement floor tank 5 X 3 feet, with a cement water table above, heavy birch tables surrounding the outside walls on which they are carried on iron brackets; gas and electricity for lighting or power, automatic telephone service to all other rooms in the building and to -other buildings, steel shelving, freshwater sink, etc.

The dedication exercises took place on July 10, and occupied the entire day. In the morning all the buildings were open for inspection and parties of visitors were conducted through by guides. The laboratory steamer took out a dredging party. Lunch was served to about 600 guests in the laboratory mess. The afternoon exercises were held in a large tent, with music by the Russian Balalaika Orchestra from New York. Mr. Crane presided and three short addresses were made by Professor Lillie, Professor Conklin and Dr. Hugh M. Smith, the U. S. Fish Commission, followed by an address on "The Needs of Research," by Dr. R. S. Woodward, president of the Carnegie Institution.

 

THE ST. PAUL MEETING OF THE NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL ASSOCIATION

So far as can be gathered from the meager despatches from St. Paul, the recent meeting of the National Educational Association was successful in attendance and in programs and maintained the progressive policies which have gained ascendancy in recent years. It will be remembered that the so-called "old guard" was definitely defeated in Boston, when the official nomination to the presidency of Mr. Z. X. Snyder, president of the Colorado Normal School, was superseded by the election of Mrs. Ella Flagg Young, superintendent:>f the Chicago Schools. The New York Evening Post says editorially that it is "astounding" and "wholly unexpected" that the association should vote in favor of the right of suffrage for women, but a similar resolution was passed unanimously at Chicago two years ago.

Among other principles and policies—commonplaces or radical innovations in accordance with one's point of view—which the association has favored are increased powers for the National Bureau of Education and the establishment

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One of the Old Buildings of the Marine Biological Laboratory.

of a national university; increased national support of instruction in agriculture and domestic economy, such as congress has provided in this session; federal legislation in regard to child labor, marriage and divorce; for instruction favoring international good will and against military training in the schools; the use of the public school houses and grounds as social and recreation centers for the community; school district parks with instruction in gardening; vocational training and vocational guidance; instruction in sex hygiene in normal schools, but not in public schools, and the acceptance by the college of the education supplied by the high school. The association is naturally in favor of increased salaries for teachers and it endorses equal pay for equal work by men and women.

This year a resolution was passed condemning the activities of the General Education Board and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Like the recent action of congress in forbidding cooperation between the Department of Agriculture and the General Education Board and in refusing a charter to Mr. Rockefeller's new foundation, this may in part be due to antagonism to men whose names have been associated with business methods and results which are no longer approved. But there is a wide-spread aversion to the meddling of these corporations with public education, or even lo their dictating policies to other endowed institutions.

There was elected as president of the association for the next year, Dr. David Starr Jordan, from its establishment president and now chancellor of Stanford University, distinguished equally for his work in science, in education and for social progress.

 

MAJOR LEONARD DARWIN'S ADDRESS BEFORE THE EUGENICS EDUCATION SOCIETY

In his address as president of the British Eugenics Education Society given at the annual meeting held in London on July 2, Major Darwin said that as citizens they must aid in the

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Dr. David Starr Jordan,

Chancellor of Leland Stanford Junior University. President of the National Education Association.

 

cure of the sick and in the alleviation of the destitute even though they saw that the multiplication of the less desirable types of humanity might thus be encouraged. One consideration, however, made them hope that eugenic advantages would not infrequently spring from reforms intended to affect human surroundings. The philanthropist's efforts resulted in the more easily cured or reformed being separated out from those less amenable to environmental influences. As social reform proceeded, and as the unfit were thus more and more clearly marked out from the nation at large, the numbers to be considered with reference to eugenic reform would be proportionately diminished, and racial progress would thus be facilitated. Social reforms producing these eugenic by-products must be utilized, as for example the proposed changes in the treatment of the habitual criminal. Improvement in environment would, no doubt, cause a diminution in crime, but a remnant of habitual criminals would remain, whose strong natural tendencies, being subject to the laws of natural inheritance, would infallibly tend to reappear in their descendants. To lessen their fertility seemed, therefore, within the scope of eugenic reform. Crime had a marked tendency to run in families.

Individuals endowed with those natural qualities, mental or physical, which render resistance to crime more than ordinarily difficult, are often brought into bad surroundings, mental or physical; this bad environment reacted on them, dragging them down in body and mind, and this action and reaction continuing either in the individual or generation after generation, the final resultant of these forces often was a long series of short imprisonments. The aim of the social reformer was, when possible, to break the vicious circle by at once removing the link of bad environment; whilst the eugenist would at the same time also strive to strengthen the innate characters of the individuals composing the coining generations. This latter result might be obtained by selective breeding.

A study of criminal family statistics surely must make the believer in environmental effects demand the segregation of the criminal-parent, both to safeguard the lives of those children who have been born into foul surroundings and to lessen the numbers of those children who would be born to face the perils thus arising. In short that seemed to be the right policy to adopt from whatever direction they approached this subject.

Much would have to be done before the machinery established under the mental deficiency act would produce the best possible results, and unquestionably this was the field to which the eugenist could now most usefully turn his attention. They could not form any trustworthy estimate of the number of criminals who would be dealt with under the provisions of the act, and they would sooner or later be driven to enquire whether some steps ought not to be taken with regard to the remainder of their habitual criminal population. If he could only be proved to be either very stupid, very weak or utterly worthless, was the man who committed crime after crime to be allowed to go on breeding freely? Few who had studied these questions with care had any doubt that habitual criminals ought to be detained for longer periods than at present, whilst every effort should be made to make that detention more curative in its effects.

The foregoing considerations had led many criminologists to advocate the system of "indeterminate sentences" in the case of habitual criminals. A reform much more easily obtainable, and one which the eugenist ought to endeavor to promote, would be the amendment of the prevention of crimes act in such a manner as to make it more readily applicable to the man of many minor offences. This act could easily be amended so as to make it easier to increase the periods of detention of those thousands of unfortunate persons who possessed defects of character which drove them whenever free to a life of crime and made them an intolerable nuisance to society—defects which would inevitably reappear to some extent in their descendants if they had any. If they could get the paramount racial duty which they owed to posterity incorporated as an essential part of the moral code of the nation, then they would be on the high road to success.

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS

We record with regret the death of Dr. Frederick W. True, assistant director of the Smithsonian Institution, known for his contributions to zoology, especially of the Cetacea; of Professor Seth Eugene Meek, assistant curator of zoology at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, who was an authority on fishes and reptiles; of Dr. Rupert Norton, assistant superintendent of the Johns Hopkins Hospital; of Dr. Joseph Reynolds Green, F.R.S., known for his researches in plant physiology, and of Professor Hugo Kronecker, of Berlin, distinguished for his contributions to physiology.

At the recent meeting of the American Medical Association, its gold medal was conferred on Surgeon General William Crawford Gorgas, who has also received honorary doctorates of laws from Princeton and Yale Universities.—The degree of LL.D. was bestowed by the University of California on commencement day on Eugene Woldemar Hilgard, from 1874 to 1906 professor of agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture; on George Holmes Howison, Mills professor of intellectual and moral polity from 1884 to 1909.

Mrs. Morris K. Jesup, who died on June 17, bequeathed $5,000,000 to the American Museum of Natural History and made other bequests to public institutions amounting to $3,450,000.