Miscellany | Published:


Nature volume 68, pages 277279 (23 July 1903) | Download Citation



WHEN it was announced, a few months ago, that Prof, von Neumayer, the distinguished meteorologist, was about to retire, on account of advanced age and ill-health, from his post of director of the German Naval Observatory at Hamburg, which was under his control for a considerable number of years, the rumour quickly gained currency in usually well-informed circles that his successor would not be a man of science but a naval officer. This rumour was discredited at the time by many people, but it proves to have been quite correct, for during the Kaiser's recent visit to Hamburg for the purpose of unveiling a statue to the Emperor William I., he summoned Captain Herz, of the Imperial Navy, to his presence, and informed him that he had been appointed to the vacant post with the rank of a Rear-Admiral. As the work of the observatory is necessarily so largely scientific, it may at first sight seem strange that a man, who, no matter how able he may be, is not a man of science, should be placed at its head. A similar arrangement, however, has been made in several other cases in recent years—as, for instance, in the construction department of the Navy, which until quite recently was under the supervision of scientific engineers, but is now in the hands of naval officers—and the explanation given is that a man of science in such a position is so overburdened with administrative work—for which, very possibly, he is not well fitted—that he has little or no time for scientific investigation. The naval authorities have, therefore, decided to utilise their investigators wholly for scientific purposes, and to place the work of organisation and administration into the hands of a naval officer who is a man of practical affairs.

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