When the late Charles William Eliot resigned the presidency of Harvard in 1909, Harvard stood for Philosophy. Death, desertion and desuetude soon left President Abbott Lawrence Lowell little to boast about in that department. During subsequent periods Harvard has stood for Literature, Freshman Dormitories, Astronomy, House Plan, according to the energy of the faculty or the benevolence of donors. Currently Harvard is beginning to stand for Physics. President Lowell, on the eve of his retirement, apparently has determined that his successor shall not have the props pulled from under that branch of knowledge. If good equipment will keep good physicists at Harvard, they now have it.
This week President Lowell accepted the dedication keys of an astrophotographic building, and turned the establishment over to Professor Harlow Shapley, director of the Astronomical Observatory. The building has fireproof stacks to hold 800,000 photographic plates of the heavens. Harvard already has 400,000 such plates. They are in famed and patient Dr. Annie Jump Cannon's care. Harvard astronomers began taking occasional pictures in 1850. Every clear night for the past 40 years they have been adding to the collection until now it is a permanent record of things understood or obscure beyond the night. It is a towering compendium of dots and streaks in photographic gelatine which, to the theoretical physicist, suggest the whence and the whither of all things. By means of the Harvard plates three-fourths of all known variable stars have been discovered, the majority of new stars recognized, the spectra of a million stars recorded.
To view the collection the International Astronomical Union, it was announced this week, will meet at Harvard Sept. 2-9. It will be the Union's first meeting in the U. S. Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is to be there, to deliver an address on "The Expanding Universe."
Visitors will also see something new in Scienceorganized research in geophysics. The Rockefeller Foundation gave $50,000 and Harvard is raising another $50,000 for a five-year investigation of how the earth is built, how it crackles in quakes and upheavals, how minerals were formed and where they are.
Last week a committee of five professors started workProfessors Reginald Aldworth Daly, geologist; Percy Williams Bridgman, physicist; Louis Caryl Graton, engineer; Harlow Shapley, astronomer; Donald Hamilton McLaughlin, geologist.