The British Association


    THE Fifty-first Annual Meeting of the British Association was opened yesterday under the presidency of Sir John Lubbock, Bart., M.P., F.R.S., at York, the birthplace of the Association fifty years ago (September 27, 1831). Almost as easily might we compare the first meeting of the Accademia del Cimento when Roberval and Mersennus and Torricelli discussed the nature of the vacuum with the last meeting of the Nuovo Cimento, as compare the meeting of the British Association of 1831 with that of 1881. Railways, telegraphs, telephones, and electric lighting were unknown; the doctrines of evolution and the conservation of energy had not been developed; geology, palæontology, and petrology were in their infancy; the modern applications of spectroscopy were scarcely thought of; the mechanical equivalent of heat had not been determined. Several sciences, which at that time consisted of a mere collection of ill-arranged facts, have since, by the application of logical methods, had conferred upon them an individuality which they never before possessed. Science schools have arisen in all directions; the State yearly examines some thousands of its subjects; the Universities have created new professorships, have vitalised the old ones, and have placed science scholarships on an equality with those which formerly were only given for classics and mathematics. The Universities having opened their doors to the new culture, and it has become a necessary part of elementary education; while technical schools in all our large centres instruct thousands of artisans in the rudiments of natural knowledge. Has the British Association kept pace with this prodigious development?

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    The British Association . Nature 24, 401–402 (1881).

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