Open main menu

Popular Science Monthly/Volume 86/February 1915/Foreign Associates of National Societies III

FOREIGN ASSOCIATES OF NATIONAL SOCIETIES, III
By Dr. EDWARD C. PICKERING

DIRECTOR OF THE HARVARD COLLEGE OBSERVATORY

A PAPER entitled "Foreign Associates of National Societies" was published in The Popular Science Monthly, Volume 73, page 372. A second paper on the same subject is contained in Volume 74, page 80. Lists were prepared of those who had been elected as associate members in the physical and natural sciences, by the seven leading societies of the world. To secure impartiality, the great nations of the world were arranged in the order of population. Omitting China and Japan they are Russia, United States, Germany, Austria, Great Britain, France, Italy, and are here designated by the letters, E, U, G, A, B, F, I. The societies are the Imperial Academy of St. Petersburg, the National Academy, the Royal Prussian Academy, the Royal Academy of Sciences in Vienna, the Royal Society of London, the Institute of France, and the Royal Academy of the Lincei. All the foreign members of a society are regarded as foreign associates. The list already published contained all persons who were foreign associates of two or more of these societies. It may be claimed that this is the most unprejudiced list of eminent men ever selected. It would seldom happen that any person, not worthy of the honor, could be elected into one of these societies. The chance that he could be elected into two is so small that it may be neglected. The first list was published in 1908, and since then more than a third of the members have died. Moreover, under existing conditions, it will probably be impossible for many years to secure an unprejudiced election of foreigners into these societies. It appears, therefore, to be the last chance to prepare an impartial list of the men most eminent in the physical and natural sciences, in the opinion of their contemporaries.

Table I. contains, in successive columns, the names of each man selected as described above, his residence, his department of work, date of birth, age on election into each of the societies and, if not living, his age at the time of his death. The date of the list is January 1, 1914, but the last column is probably complete to January 1, 1915. The letter a is added to indicate those men elected since 1908. It will be noticed that, in three cases, men have been elected and died during the last six years.

Table I. may be discussed in a variety of ways. The numbers may be grouped according to the societies, countries or sciences. Examples of some of the conclusions which may be derived are given below.
Table I
List of Members

PSM V86 D192 Foreign associates of national societies 1 of 2.png

 
Table I—Continued

PSM V86 D193 Foreign associates of national societies 2 of 2.png

 

Table II. gives the designation of each society, the country it represents, the year of its foundation, the number of resident members, the number of foreign members and the number of members represented in Table I. The latter sometimes exceeds the present number of foreign associates, owing to deaths and the election of resident members. The care taken by each society in electing members is shown in the last four columns. They give the number first elected by each society, the number first elected of the members of the seven societies, the number last elected of the members of seven societies, and the number not yet elected of the members of six societies. When a member is elected in two societies in the same year, both are included.

 
Table II
Societies
 
Des. Country Found Res. For. Soc. F. F7 L7 6
R Russia 1725 70 97 79 30 5 3 1
U U. S. 1863 133 49 64 7 . . 6 1
G Germany 1700 37 78 68 15 2 . . 5
A Austria 1847 67 45 56 14 2 6 7
B Great Britain 1645 472 47 72 14 3 . . . .
F France 1795 77 125 82 21 3 2 . .
I Italy 1603 106 106 94 31 5 1 . .

The Lincei is the oldest of the societies, and the Institute of France has the largest number of foreign associates. The Royal Society, the next oldest, has much the largest number of resident members, in fact nearly as many as all the others put together. If any rigid system were adopted for the election of members, each would evidently be elected first into the Institute of France, then into the Lincei, and so on, in the order of numbers. The skill shown by the Russian Academy and the Lincei in selecting members is indicated by the large number of first elections. It was a great triumph for each of them to have elected five men who were not members of either of the other societies, and then to be followed by all of the others. The small number elected by the National Academy is not justified by the number of foreign associates. On the other hand, it is not creditable to a society to have been the last to elect, or to have failed to elect those whose ability had already secured their memberships in the other six societies. Judged by this standard, Austria has overlooked 13 men, the United States 7 and Germany 5. Of the 13, Austria has overlooked 5 astronomers, 3 physicists and 2 mathematicians.

The results of a grouping according to countries are contained in Table III. The name of the country is given in the first column, followed by the number of memberships of 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2, by the total number, the total number of societies, and the number of societies per member. The last two columns give the number of new members, and the number who have died.

Table III

Countries

Country 7 6 5 4 3 2 All Soc. At. New D.
Prussia 4 2 3 6 4 3 22 97 4.4 4 6
England 3 5 1 3 5 . . 17 83 4.9 3 5
France 2 2 2 3 8 1 18 74 4.1 7 5
U.S. 1 2 1 2 4 . . 10 44 4.4 4 4
Saxony 1 . . 1 3 1 1 7 29 4.1 1 2
Italy 1 1 1 . . 3 . . 6 27 4.5 2 2
Bavaria 1 . . 1 1 3 . . 6 25 4.2 1 1
Austria 1 . . 2 . . 2 . . 5 23 4.6 . . 1
Sweden 1 1 . . 1 1 1 5 22 4.4 1 . .
Holland 1 . . 1 1 1 1 5 21 4.2 2 . .
Russia . . . . . . 3 1 . . 4 15 3.8 1 . .
Norway . . 1 . . . . 1 2 4 13 3.2 . . . .
Baden . . . . 1 1 1 . . 3 12 4.0 1 1
Denmark . . . . . . . . 2 1 3 8 2.7 . . 1
Switzerland . . . . . . . . 1 1 2 5 2.5 . . 1
Belgium . . . . 1 . . . . . . 1 5 5.0 . . 1
Scotland . . . . . . 1 . . . . 1 4 4.0 1 1
Wurttemberg . . . . . . . . 1 . . 1 3 3.0 . . 1
Java . . . . . . . . 1 . . 1 3 3.0 . . 1
Spain . . . . . . . . . . 1 1 2 2.0 1 . .
All 16 14 15 25 40 12 122 515 4.2 29 33

It appears from Table III. that the total number of men in Table I. is 122 and that they have a membership of 515, 16 of them are members of all seven societies, and 14 of six. On January 1, 1909, the number of members was 93, on January 1, 1914, it was 89. As in the previous publication, Prussia is ahead of any other country in men, membership and in membership in all seven societies. The average membership is, however, much less than that of England. The progress in France appears from its seven new members, and in the United States by its four new members, equalling in number those of Prussia. Six years ago the United States had no more members than Saxony, although the population was twenty times as great. The total number elected shows an excess of three, although the number living is only one greater, owing to the great loss by death, including the two leaders, Newcomb 7, and Agassiz 6. It is interesting to compare the numbers of Austria and Germany, including Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria, Baden and Würtemberg, with England, France, Russia, Belgium and Scotland, and with the nine remaining countries. The number of members in these three groups are 44, 41, 37; of members of all seven societies 7, 5 and 4; of memberships, 188, 181 and 145; of new members, 7, 12 and 10; of deaths, 12, 12 and 9. These numbers are nearly equal, with a slight advantage for Germany.

A grouping according to sciences is contained in Table IV. The name of the science is followed by the number of members in 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2 societies, the total number of members, the total number of societies, the average number, the number of new members and the number of deceased members.

 
Table IV
Sciences
 
Name 7 6 5 4 3 2 All Soc. Av. New D.
Mathematics 2 2 1 2 6 1 14 59 4.2 3 2
Astronomy 3 3 2 3 4 1 16 75 4.7 6 6
Geography . . 1 1 2 4 3 11 37 3.4 5 3
Physics 2 2 3 4 4 . . 15 69 4.6 3 2
Chemistry 4 1 . . 1 4 1 11 52 4.7 3 3
Geology 2 1 4 3 4 . . 13 62 4.7 2 3
Botany 1 2 3 . . 7 . . 13 56 4.3 1 5
Zoology 1 1 2 3 6 2 16 60 3.8 2 3
Biology 1 . . . . 6 2 4 13 45 3.5 4 6
All 16 13 16 24 41 12 122 515 4.2 29 33

Chemistry is conspicuous in Table IV. from the large number of members of the seven academies, notwithstanding the small total number of members. Biology and geography may be regarded as somewhat new sciences. At least, comparatively few doctors were members of these societies half a century ago. Accordingly, we find but few having membership in 5, 6 or 7 societies. It is not surprising that the number of zoologists is large, considering the breadth of the subject, and the number included in this profession. On the other hand, the total number of astronomers is small, but the number included here is relatively large. The average membership is also equal to that of chemistry and geology. It is probably due to the interest and rapid growth of astrophysics. In mathematics, the country most largely represented is France with 5 members; in astronomy, United States, 5, England, 4; in physics, England, 5; in biology, Prussia, 5. Great Britain is the only country represented in each of the sciences. Prussia has no geologist on the list, France no geographer, and the United States, no mathematician, chemist, botanist or biologist.