National Geographic : 1917 Feb
PRIZES FOR THE INVENTOR* Some of the Problems Awaiting Solution BY ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL W HAT a glorious thing it is to be young and have a future be fore you. To the graduates, especially, of a scientific technical school like the McKinley Manual Training School the outlook for the future looks bright and promising. When I was a young man the institu tions of learning, the higher schools and colleges, paid a great deal more attention to the teaching of Latin and Greek than to the study of science; they made schol ars rather than scientists. The war has changed all that, and the man of science will be appreciated in the future as he never has been in the past. Knowledge is power; and we now realize that the nation that fosters science be comes so powerful that other nations must, if only in self-defense, adopt the same plan. It is safe to say that scien tific men and technical experts are des tined in the future to occupy distin guished and honorable positions in all the countries of the world. Your future is assured. WE PROGRESS FROM CANDLES TO ELEC TRICITY IN ONE LIFETIME I said it was a glorious thing to be young; but it is also a glorious thing to be old and look back upon the progress of the world during one's own lifetime. Now, I don't mean to insinuate that I amold,byanymeans! Ihadinmind an old lady, who is now living in Baltimore, at the age of one hundred and seven she is now in her one hundred and eighth year-with mental faculties unimpaired. Possessed of a bright and active mind, she is able, from her own personal recol *An address to the graduating class of the McKinley Manual Training School, Washing ton, D. C., February I, 1917, revised for the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE. lections, to look back upon a whole cen tury of progress of the world. She was born in England and came over to America when quite young; and it is rather interesting to know what brought the family here. The father was a wholesale candlemaker in London and his business was ruined by the introduc tion of gas! Gas as an illuminant is now being re placed by electric lighting; and there are many people in this room who saw the first electric lights. I, myself, am not so very old yet, but I can remember the days when there were no telephones. I remember, too, very distinctly when there were no automobiles here. There were thousands of horses, and Washing ton, in the summer-time, smelled like a stable. There were plenty of flies, and the death rate was high. Now, it is very interesting and instruc tive to look back over the various changes that have occurred and trace the evolu tion of the present from the past. By projecting these lines of advance into the future, you can forecast the future, to a certain extent, and recognize some of the fields of usefulness that are opening up for you. Here we have one line of advance from candles and oil lamps to gas, and from gas to electricity; and we can recognize many other threads of advance all con verging upon electricity. We produce heat and light by electricity. We trans mit intelligence by the telegraph and tele phone, and we use electricity as a motive power. In fact, we have fairly entered upon an electrical age, and it is obvious that the electrical engineer will be much in demand in the future. Those of you who devote yourselves to electrical sub jects will certainly find a place and room to work.