The 96th annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, at Glasgow last week, was a grand concourse of ideas on chemistry, physics, psychology, mathematics, geology. So specialized and abstruse were most of the papers read in 13 sectional meetings that the 3,000 scientists attending (from all the continents) were eager to get the Glasgow newspapers for popularized reports of what was happening in fields other than their own. However there was a strong thread of thought running through all the discussions: the application of science in industry.
"Craftsmanship Science." New president of the B. A. A. S. (to succeed Sir Arthur Keith) is Sir William Henry Bragg, director of the Davy-Faraday Research Laboratory at the University of London. His greatest contribution to science is his use of x-rays to describe and measure the atoms and molecules of crystals. As is expected of new B. A. A. S. presidents, Sir William stated his scientific credo: "There are some who think that science is inhuman. They speak as though students of modern science would destroy reverence and faith. I do not know how that can be said of the student who stands daily in the presence of what seems to him to be the Infinite. Science is not setting forth to destroy the soul, but to keep body and soul together." In this he took a view opposite to that of retiring President Sir Arthur Keith, who at Leeds last year emphasized the finity of human effort (TIME, Sept. 12, 1927).
But that credo was almost an aside in President Bragg's address. He dwelt much more on craftsmanship and science. British scientists are less aware of industry's needs than are their U. S. colleagues. The academic and the workaday are more separate there than here. Hence Sir William was obliged to exhort: "The plain truth is that modern craftsmanship, with all its noise and ugliness, is giving food, clothing, warmth and interest to millions who otherwise must die. In all honesty let us recognize that we live on craftsmanship in its modern form." The motor, aviation; chemical, electrical industries all need and use scientific research. But British factories are sluggards in their support of science; not so U. S. factories.
President Bragg's scientific audience (3,000 people) thus stirred to think of science's relation to industry, spent the week-end of their convention inspecting shipyards and factories around Glasgow.
Educated Industrialists. As everyone from the U. S. knew, it was flattery for Charles Wilfrid Valentine, professor of education at the University of Birmingham, to say that the best brains of the U. S. are attracted to business and the second and third best to the professions. But he, bitter against the educational recalcitrancy of England, wanted to make a point against the "hard-dying social stigma which attaches to being in trade" in England. He wants English young men to study for business. Present British industrialists he holds in contempt. Many lack wits enough to be army corporals, he exaggerated, exasperated.