National Geographic : 1936 Jul
BOSTON THROUGH MIDWEST EYES and source of various smells. When a cer tain smell is desired for use in a trade or industry, the chemist knows just where or how to get it. In Boston today sulphuric, nitric, hydro chloric, and acetic acids, as well as alum, ammonia, salts, and other chemicals, are made for paper and textile mills, tanneries, etc. One chemical concern makes shoe polishes which sell all over the world; others furnish chemicals for factories mak ing steam hose, bowling balls, and rubber rolls. In the field of pharmaceutical chemistry, Boston has the great plant of the United Drug Company, now known as "Drug, Inc.," and other factories whose products are much exported. Here the quick freezing of food was first accomplished; here are made sugar-of-milk, cod-liver oil, and disinfectants, and here is one of the world's largest soap factories. THE HARVARD TERCENTENARY In September of this year Harvard Uni versity will celebrate the tercentenary of its founding, when, on September 8, 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony appropri ated £400 toward a college which should educate "English and Indian youth in knowledge and Godliness" (Plate X). America's first college lecture on elec tricity was given at Harvard in 1746 by Professor John Winthrop. Harvard's Blue Hill Weather Observa tory was founded in 1884. Here the first recording instrument was raised by a kite. Samuel P. Langley and Orville Wright came to study these kite findings. At the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, the Har vard Observatory initiated in America the use of weather-sounding balloons. For more than fifty years Harvard has been noted for its study of the heavens; it has made more than 400,000 celestial photographs, and has led in work on star clusters, star brightness, Magellanic Clouds, and the galactic system. In chemistry, Harvard laboratories de termined the atomic weights of more than half of all known elements; led in the man ufacture of organic compounds; developed the methods and apparatus, now in use the world over, for precise work in chemical analysis, calorimetry, and electrochemistry. X-rays, acoustics, spectra, radio waves, high pressures, cosmic rays, radioactivity and thermodynamics have been subjects of major research at Harvard, to the advance ment of science. In geology and volcanology Harvard has made field studies in six continents and the islands of three oceans. PIONEERS IN RESEARCH Early American development in many phases of science is attributed to Harvard men: Agassiz in zoology and geology; Gray in American flora; Goodale and Farlow in botany; Cooke and Gibbs in chemistry; Wyman in anatomy; Whitney and Shaler in geology; Peirce in mathematics; Jackson in paleontology; Sabine in physics; Picker ing in astronomy; James and Miinsterberg in psychology. Anthropology in America owes much of its growth to Harvard, which has carried on field research throughout the world, notably, in earlier days, in Central Amer ica and New Mexico. The Gray Herbarium, founded in 1864, has 850,000 sheets of specimens of plants and ferns, most nearly complete of any col lection. The Harvard forest of 2,100 acres is our oldest scientifically managed forest research tract. For more than a century Harvard's botanic garden has been a living museum of plant forms. Harvard's Ar nold Arboretum, founded in 1872, contains about 5,000 kinds of trees, shrubs, and plants grown in the open air for research. Asa Gray, of Harvard, America's greatest botanist, from the time he became a pro fessor at Harvard in 1842, until his death in 1888, developed a system whereby sur veying parties, pioneer observers, members of exploring expeditions, Army men at frontier posts, and others who went into the American pioneer country of that day sent him botanical specimens. Thereby Gray studied and named thousands of American plants. Harvard's medical school men recognized and named appendicitis, devised the first baked dressings, suggested sterilization of milk for infants, determined the value of bacteriological examination of throat cases in diphtheria, devised serums and muscle training treatment for infantile paralysis, and discovered the liver cure for pernicious anemia. On the development of chemical engi neering, Massachusetts Institute of Tech nology is having profound influence. Its chief aim is to train young men, with books and in laboratories, for industrial research.