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AIDS TO SCIENTIFIC OBSERVATION.
THE question how to observe resolves itself into two—that of the scientific method which is to be employed in approaching a problem or in making an observation, and that of the philosophical instruments used in the observation or experiment. Our British Association brings to bear the combined knowledge and experience of the scientific men not only of this but of other countries on the discovery of that method, which, while it economises time and labour, promises the most accurate results. The method to which, after careful examination, the palm has been awarded, is then placed at the free disposal and use of all scientific investigators. It has also issued, where practicable, printed forms, merely requiring the different heads to be filled up, which, by their uniformity, become an important means for assisting the subsequent reduction of the Aids to Scientific Observation. 57 observations for the abstraction of the laws which they may indicate. At the same time, most searching tests and inquiries are constantly carried on in the Observatory at Kew, given to the Association by Her Majesty, the object of which is practically to test the relative value of different methods and instruments, and to guide the constantly progressive improvements in the construction of the latter. The establishment at Kew has undertaken the further important service of verifying and correcting to a fixed standard the instruments of any maker, to enable observations made with them to be reduced to the same numerical expression.
THE EXHIBITION OF 1851. THE Exhibition of 1851 is to give us a true test and a living picture of the point of development at which the whole of mankind has arrived in this grand task, and a new starting point from which all nations will be able to direct their further exertions.
I confidently hope that the first impression which the view of this vast collection will produce upon the spectator will be that of deep thankfulness to the Almighty for the blessings which He has bestowed upon us already here below; and the second, the conviction that they can only be realized in proportion to the help which we are prepared to render each other; therefore, only by peace, love, and ready assistance, not only between individuals, but between the nations of the earth.
This being my conviction, I must be highly gratified to see assembled the magistrates of all the important towns of this realm, sinking all their local and possible political differences, the representatives of the different political opinions of the country, and the representatives of the different English nations, to-day representing only one interest !
On your courage, perseverance, and liberality, the undertaking now entirely depends.* I feel the strongest confidence in these qualities of the
* Spoken October 25, 1850.
The Exhibition of 1851.
59 British people, and I am sure that they will repose confidence in themselves—confidence that they will honourably sustain the contest of emulation, and that they will nobly carry out their proffered hospitality to their foreign competitors.
PUBLIC ENCOURAGEMENT OF SCIENCE.
The impediments to the general progress of Science are of various kinds. If they were only such as direction, advice, and encouragement, would enable the individual, or even combined efforts of philosophers, to overcome, the exertions of the British Association might be sufficient for the purpose. But they are often such as can only be successfully dealt with by the powerful arm of the state or the long purse of the nation. These impediments may be caused either by the social condition of the country itself, by restrictions arising out of peculiar laws, by the political separation of different countries, or by the magnitude of the undertakings being out of all proportion to the means and power of single individuals, of the Association, or even the voluntary efforts of the public. In these cases the Association, together with its sister society, “the Royal Society," becomes the spokesman of Science with the Crown, the Government, or Parliament—sometimes even, through the Home Government, with foreign Governments. Thus it obtained the establishment, by the British Government, of magnetic and meteorological observatories in six different parts of the globe, as the beginning of a network of stations which we must hope will be so far extended as to compass by their geographical distribution the whole of the phenomena which throw light on this important point in our tellurian and even cosmical existence. The Institute of France, at the recommendation of M. Arago, whose loss the scientific world must long deplore, cheerfully co-operated with our Council on this occasion. It was our Association which, in conjunction with the Royal Society, suggested the Antarctic Expedition, with a view to further the discovery of the