Page images
PDF
EPUB

those who criticize the present methods for kilo-watts or in foot-pounds. But we may emphasizing the virtues of obedience and properly make investigations into the subdiscipline and for failing to promote inde- ject with a view of getting the greatest rependence, and impulse, and constructive turn for the energy expended. doubt, and spontaneous enquiry.

The questions of foundation and fundaUndoubtedly modern educators substi- mental subjects needed in professional work tute largely passive acceptance for creative is both delicate and important. Shall an thought, a substitution that is deadening engineering student spend twelve hours or rather than stimulating, and it is to the five hours on analytics and calculus in prepcredit of Sigma Xi that thirty years ago it aration for civil engineering? is a question was founded to do its part in persuading to be solved only by turning the technical students to see and to think for themselves school into a laboratory and experimentand to make deductions, based on their own ing on the subject. Shall physics be taught studies.

as theory or as a laboratory exercise and The old-fashioned teacher says that by how many elementary principles of physthe old régime was bred a sense of obliga- ics does an engineer really need ? is another tion, a respect for authority, a readiness to most pertinent question. Why does the respond to the call of duty, traits that are engineer need to spend three years in his sadly missed in the rising generation; while preparatory school on a modern language the opposition claim that these good quali that apparently has no further bearing on ties need not be sacrificed in the modern at his college course? is another perplexing tempt to arouse individuals to mental question perhaps not so easily adjusted alertness and self-reliance.

to laboratory tests. But experiments on A few years ago, one of the former mem inducements to study, on stimuli and inbers of this chapter came to be in charge centives might be carried on almost withof a class in applied mechanics in a western out number. The general faculty have university and he tried an experiment. been considering inducements for the imInstead of teaching general laws by lecture provement of scholarship, all based on and recitation, he gave out practical prob- scholastic rank, on marks, an extraordinary lems on pressures and on strength of beams spectacle that the faculty especially of and guided the students into a knowledge arts, burdened with the task of imparting of the laws by which that particular prob- culture and mental discipline should think lem could be solved. He reports a greater that scholarship can be compared and understanding of the principles than ever measured by numerical grades. What our before and an unheard of enthusiasm for society could do is to determine experithe subject. With so many of us teachers, mentally the best methods of teaching, the why should not we turn our scientific minds best methods of competition to compel stuon to the problems of effective teaching? It dents to rouse themselves and develop their can not of course be altogether mechanical. ambition to excel. Once mothers gave their We can not invent any adequate system of children in the spring nauseous doses of gauging the intelligence, or of regulating sulphur and molasses to purify their blood hours of study, of composing syllabi or of and for many years that magic phrase was imposing quizzes, until work goes on with sufficient justification for the practise. Is the pressure and dispatch of an engine there not something of the same sort going room, the product accurately measured in on in educational matters, and how shall

the truth be known unless we, who have principles which apply to success on a large educational laboratories at our hands, make scale in transportation and manufacture and use of them.

general staff work apply to them; that the

difference between a mob and an army does May I then express the hope that among you, the newly elected members, there may

not depend upon occupation or purpose but

upon human nature; that the effective power be some who will find the subjects for their

of a great number of scientific men may be future experimental work, not in abstract

increased by organization just as the effective research, without thought of reward, car

power of a great number of laborers may be ried on in the sole interest of science, but

increased by military discipline. rather in modern practical applications, in

This attitude follows naturally from the deattempted solutions of the many insistent mand of true scienific work for individual problems of labor, industry and of educa- concentration and isolation. The sequence, tion, that the existence of the university however, is not necessary or laudable. Your may be.more fully justified and the pur- isolated and concentrated scientist must know pose of the Society of Sigma Xi the better what has gone before, or he will waste his life realized.

in doing what has already been done, or in

H. N. OGDEN repeating past failures. He must know someCORNELL UNIVERSITY

thing about what his contemporaries are try.

ing to do, or he will waste his life in dupliINDUSTRIAL RESEARCH AND NA. cating effort. The history of science is so vast TIONAL WELFARE1

and contemporary effort is so active that if I HAVE no justification for expressing views

he undertakes to acquire this knowledge by about scientific and industrial research except

himself alone his life is largely wasted in dothe sympathetic interest of an observer for ing that his initiative and creative power are many years at rather close range. One look- gone before he is ready to use them. Ocing on comes to realize two things. One is casionally a man appears who has the instinct the conquest of practical life by science; there

to reject the negligible. A very great mind seems to be no department of human activity goes directly to the decisive fact, the deterin which the rule of thumb man has not come

mining symptom, and can afford not to burden to realize that science which he formerly de

itself with a great mass of unimportant facts; spised is useful beyond the scope of his own

but there are few such minds even among individual experience. The other is that sci- those capable of real scientific work. All ence like charity should begin at home, and

other minds need to be guided away from the has done so very imperfectly. Science has

useless and towards the useful. That can be been arranging, classifying, methodizing, sim- done only by the application of scientific plifying everything except itself. It has made

method to science itself through the purely possible the tremendous modern development scientific process of organizing effort. It is of the power of organization which has so

a wearisome thing to think of the millions of multiplied the effective power of human effort

facts that are being laboriously collected to so as to make the differences from the past

no purpose whatever, and the thousands of seem to be of kind rather than of degree. It

tons of printed matter stored in basements has organized itself very imperfectly. Scien

never to be read-all the product of unorgantific men are only recently realizing that the

ized and undirected scientific spirit. Augustus

De Morgan denying the divinity of Francis 1 A statement made by the Honorable Elihu

Bacon Root at the initial meeting of the Advisory Com

says “What are large collections of mittee on Industrial Research of the National Re.

facts for? To make theories from, says search Council, held in New York on May 29, 1918. Bacon to try ready made theories by, says the

history of discovery; it is all the same, says work of organization and research must be the idolator; nonsense, say we.” Whichever done by men who make it the whole business it may be, the solitary scientist is likely to put of their lives. It can not be successful if a great part of his life into the pathetic futili- parcelled out among a lot of universities and ties illustrated by De Morgan in the “ Budget colleges to be done by teachers however emof Paradoxes." He needs chart and compass, inent and students however zealous in their suggestion, direction, and the external stim leisure hours. The other thing is that while ulus which comes from a consciousness that the solution of specific industrial problems and his work is part of great things that are being the attainment of specific industrial objects done.

will be of immense value, the whole system This relation of the scientific worker to sci will dry up and fail unless research in pure entific work as a whole can be furnished only science be included with its scope. That is by organization. It is a very interesting cir the source and the chief source of the vision cumstance that while the long history of sci which incidently solves the practical problems. ence exhibits a continual protest against limi We are thinking now mainly of science as tations upon individual freedom, the impulse applied to war; but practically the entire inwhich has called in the power of organization dustrial force of mankind is being applied to to multiply the effectiveness of scientific and war, so that our special point of view takes industrial research to the highest degree is in the whole field. It is quite certain that if the German desire for military world do the nations on either side in this war had minion, supported by a system of education been without a great fund of scientific knowlstrictly controlled by government. All the edge which they could direct towards the acworld realizes now the immense value in pre complishment of specific things in the way of paring for the present war, of the German attack and defense, transportation and supply system of research applied at Charlottenburg of armies, that side in the war would long and Grosslichterfelde. That realization is since have been defeated. Germany had the plainly giving a tremendous impetus to move advantage at the start, because she had long ments for effective organization of scientific been consciously making this kind of preparapower both in England and in the United tion with a settled purpose to bring on the war States,-countries whose whole development when she was ready. It would be the height has rested upon individual enterprise.

of folly for the peaceable law-abiding nations mains to be seen whether peoples thoroughly of the earth ever to permit themselves to be imbued with the ideas and accustomed to the left again at a disadvantage in that kind of traditions of separate private initiative are preparation. Competency for defense against capable of organizing scientific research for military aggression requires highly developed practical ends as effectively as an autocratic organized scientific preparation. Without it, government giving direction to a docile and the most civilized nation will be as helpless as submissive people. I have no doubt about it the Aztecs were against Cortez. myself, and I think the process has been well We are not limited, however, to a military obbegun in England under the Advisory Council jective, for when the war is over the internaof the Committee of the Privy Council for tional competitions of peace will be resumed. Scientific and Industrial Research, and in the No treaties or leagues can prevent that, and it United States under the National Research is not desirable that they should, for no nation Council. I venture to say two things about can afford to be without the stimulus of comit. One is that the work can not be done by petition. men who make it an incident to other occu In that race the same power of science pations. It can be encouraged of course by which has so amazingly increased the producmen who are doing other things, but the real tive capacity of mankind during the past cen

It re

tury will be applied again, and the prizes of industrial and commercial leadership will fall to the nation which organizes its scientific forces most effectively.

MAXIME BOCHER1 Maxime BÔCHER was born in Boston on August 28, 1867. His father, Ferdinand Bôcher, came to this country from France at the age of fifteen. His mother was Caroline Little, of Boston, a descendant of Thomas Little, who came to Plymouth in the early days of the colony and in 1633 married Anne Warren, the daughter of Richard Warren, who came in the Mayflower. Ferdinand Bôcher was the first professor of modern languages at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; he was called to Harvard shortly after Mr. Eliot became president. Thus Maxime grew up under the shadow of the college, attending various schools in Boston and Cambridge; but it was chiefly by the stimulating influence of his parents, he tells us in the vita of his dissertation, that his interest in science was awakened.

He graduated at the Cambridge Latin School in 1883 and took the bachelor's degree at Harvard in 1888. Then followed three years of study at Göttingen, where he received the degree of doctor of philosophy in 1891, and at the same time the prize offered in mathematics by the philosophical faculty of the university. From 1891 till his death, which occurred at his home on September 12, he was a member of the department of mathematics. He married Miss Marie Niemann, of Göttingen in 1891. His wife and three children, Helen, Esther and Frederick, survive him.

He came to Göttingen at a time when Felix Klein was probably the most inspiring teacher of mathematics in the whole world. Breadth and accuracy of scientific knowledge and a true sense of proportion, combined with extraordinary powers of presentation, were characteristics of this great leader, whose scientific

1 Minute on the life and services of Professor Böcher placed upon the records of the faculty of arts and sciences, Harvard University, at the meeting of October 22, 1918.

productivity had already secured for him high standing among mathematicians.

It was from this environment that Böcher came to Harvard to take up the profession of mathematics. His skill as an expositor in the classroom, before a scientific audience, and on the printed page shone out from the beginning of his career, but the originality of his mind saved him from ever becoming a mere expositor. As a lecturer he was preeminent among American mathematicians.

It is not difficult in science to find important problems which can not be solved, or unimportant ones which can be. Bôcher was successful in discovering subjects on which the advanced student could work with a reasonable prospect of securing results of value. He did not foster research by excessive praise, and his pupils sometimes felt that he was unappreciative. But a scientific contribution of real merit never failed to secure his attention, and he had infinite patience in helping the student who was really making progress to develop his ideas, to see that which was new in its true perspective, and to put his results into clear and accurate language.

As a scientist Bôcher was highly critical. It was, however, the constructive work called for when criticism has exposed errors or disclosed deficiencies, not he destruction with which an unimaginative mind is content, that to him was the important thing. He had extraordinary powers of judgment, both within the domain of pure science, and in things relating to the policies of institutions. His judgment of men, too, was accurate. For these reasons he was unusually well qualified to take a leading part in the affairs of the American Mathematical Society, which came into existence at the beginning of his scientific career. He became its president, and he served with marked success on the editorial board of its Transactions. He also contributed in no small measure toward helping the university to build up a strong department of mathematics.

The decade in which Böcher's career as a university teacher began was marked by an awakening of the science of mathematics in this country. His scientific contributions were

[ocr errors]

“ Scien

of a distinctly high order, and their volume ing to Saturday afternoon. The addresses of was not small. He early took a stand among the retiring vice-presidents, to be delivered on the foremost investigators of the country, and those days, are as follows: his work met with generous appreciation Section A.—Henry Norris Russell. « Variable abroad. On invitation, he delivered an ad stars." dress at the St. Louis Congress in 1904 and a Section B.-William J. Humphreys. “Some lecture at the Fifth International Congress of recent contributions to the physics of the Mathematicians at Cambridge, England, in

air." 1912, and he was exchange professor at Paris Section C.-William A. Noyes. “Valence." in 1913–14.

Section D.-Henry Sturgis Drinker. “ The His life was lived within the academic walls,

need of conservation of our vital and natand while he took keen interest in current

ural resources as emphasized by the lessons events of the world about him, his contact with

of the war.” men outside of university circles was not

Section E.-George Henry Perkins. “Vermont broad, and his judgment of them was some

physiography." times severe. But when opportunity presented

Section F.--Herbert Osborn. “Zoological aims itself to help in time of trouble, he was quick

and opportunities." to respond. He sought relaxation from scien

Section G.-Burton E. Livingston. “Some tific labor in literature, philosophy and music,

responsibilities of botanical science." rather than in social gatherings.

Section H.-Edward L. Thorndike. Those who stood nearest him will remember him best for the singleness of his purpose, the

tific personnel work in the United States constancy of his effort, and the greatness of

army." his ideals.

Section 1.-George Walbridge Perkins. (No

address in France.) THE BALTIMORE MEETING OF THE Section K.-C.-E. A. Winslow. (No address AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE -section not meeting.) ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE

Section L.-Edward Franklin Buchner. “ SciThe American Association for the Advance entific contributions of the educational ment of Science will hold its seventy-first survey." meeting in Baltimore from December 23 to 28, Section M.-Henry Jackson Waters. “ The , 1918. This will be the seventeenth of the farmers' gain from the war.” Convocation Week meetings. The presence of The registration headquarters will be in the war students at Johns Hopkins University lobby at the main entrance of Gilman Hall and the necessary return to their home insti and will open on Thursday, December 26, and tutions of those taking part in the program succeeding days at 9 A.M. Arrangements will has compelled a change from the normal dates. probably be made to attend to the registration

The opening general session will be held on of those who call after 4 P.M. on Wednesday at Thursday evening, December 26, in McCoy the Assistant Secretary's office in the Southern Hall, located at 311 West Monument Street. Hotel. All of the meetings will be held in the After a short address of welcome by Dr. Good new buildings of the Johns Hopkins Univernow, president of the Johns Hopkins University, sity at Homewood. The Baltimore City Colfollowed by general announcements concern lege, downtown, may be used by one of the ing the meetings, the retiring president of the

sections. The council will meet on Friday association, Dr. Theodore W. Richards, of and Saturday mornings at 9 o'clock at Gilman Harvard, will deliver his address on “ The Hall. The meeting of the general committee conservation of the world's resources."

for the election of officers for next year and Regular meetings of the Sections of the for the selection of the time and place of the Association will be held from Thursday morn next meeting will be held at the Southern

« PreviousContinue »