A great number of gentlemen, doctors, professors and savans, have spent six days in Baltimore for the purpose of giving to the world the results of their year's researches into the ever green fields of unexplored truth; but with a few exceptional facts, the world will be no wiser, and is not any better in an educational point of view, than it was a year ago. A city cotemporary in an article on this subject remarks that " the labors of this Association have for the last two or three years been of use to no one." Great practical questions of public health and social science have been shirked, and pettifoggying papers upon " the Phylotaxis deduced from the Mathematical Definition of Distribution," haveengross-ed the time and talent of the members ; the great lights of science are not so active as they used to be, and it is now chiefly in the hands of second-class men, who call each other unpleasant names, and stick to a theory as to their lives ; in fact, the Association seems to be going down. Some few interesting experiments were detailed, as for example Mr. A. B. Engstrom stated that he had on one occasion taken a small bell, and rowed out half a mile from the shore, and there submerged the bell to a depth of four inches. Upon its being struck it was distinctly heard upon the shore, thus proving a well known fact, that water is a good conductor of sound. Prof. Walcott Gibbs gave some interesting results of analysis, which had, however, no practical bearing, and Prof. Henry was ever ready with his vast fund of information upon all topics. Beyond this the newspaper reports are filled with professors' names and capital letters, indicating the titles of their owners, and so anxious are quasi scientific men for these distinctions that it is proposed to make some initial letters for the use of members of the Association, which we think might well be called " A Society for the Purpose of Encouraging Mutual Admiration." We are truly grieved to see that so little has been done by these gentlemen for the advancement of true science, that science of which they profess to be high priests, the spread of pure knowledge on all subjects among the great mass of the people, and we venture to give them a little advice, which, if they are wise they will take, not as coming alone from us, but as the expression of a large community who truly wish " American ScU ence " to take no second place in the history of the world. The advice is this :—Gentlemen, ignore as far as possible hard words ; bring your grand ideas into simple language, and follow the example of Cuvier, Linnseus, Humboldt, Franklin ; search for facts, not theories ; give to the world new truths alone, for depend upon it, every man can speculate enough for himself; whatever you discover, try also and find some practical use for it, (orpractical science is the demand of the age. Do this, and the meeting in'1859, at Springfield, Mass., will be the most successful you have yet had; if not, we much question whether the newspapers will report your august proceedings at all.
This article was originally published with the title "The American Association for the Advancement of Science" in Scientific American 13, 36, 285 (May 1858)