1. The Egyptian Academy of Sciences
Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, Fouad I University, Cairo
Egyptian men of science have for some time felt the need for establishing an academy of sciences in Cairo. So far the bulk of research work carried out in Egypt has been published in foreign journals or communicated to learned societies abroad. Although the Institut d'Égypte was founded in 1859 (reviving an older institute founded by Napoleon) and counts among its four sections one for Physical and Mathematical Sciences and another for Medicine, Agronomy and Natural History, its main tendency remained literary and artistic. Thus we find Osman Ghaleb Pasha (1845-1920), the biologist, publishing his work on the migrations of Filaria rytipleurites in the Comptes rendus of the Paris Academy in 1878. Previously Mahmoud El Falaki Pasha the astronomer and physicist, published his work on terrestrial magnetism in the Comptes rendus of the Paris Academy (1856) and the Mémoires couronés et mémoires des Savants étrangers of the Belgian Academy (I1856).
With the establishment of the Fouad I University in Cairo in 1925 scientific research in Egypt received a strong impetus. Thus from the Faculty of Science alone more than five hundred papers have already appeared embodying the results of original researches in different fields of pure science. Of these, nearly 350 papers have appeared in scientific journals and proceedings of learned societies abroad (with more than two hundred papers in British journals). The rest, representing only about 30 per cent of the total, were either communicated to learned societies in Egypt or published as bulletins or special publications by the University of Cairo. Other Faculties, such as Medicine and Engineering, have contributed to the growth of pure science in addition to their work in the fields of applied science.
Mention should also be made of scientific and technical departments of the Egyptian Government, such as the technical departments of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Physical Department, etc. These publish their researches as a rule in the form of Government bulletins. The Helwan Observatory publishes special reports. Other noteworthy publications are the "Flora of Egypt" (Vol. I, Pteridophyta, Gymnospermae and Angiospermae; Part I, Monocotyledons: Typhaceae-Gramineae), the tables of Legendre associated functions (with fifty thousand entries) and the special publications of the Marine Biological Station at Hurgada, all of which have been published by the Faculty of Science of the Fouad I University. In addition to the Institut d'Égypte referred to above, the following learned societies, among others, issue publications :
- The Fouad I Entomological Society, founded in 1907 and given its charter in 1923 (Bulletins and Memoires).
- The Royal Geographical Society of Egypt, founded in 1875, re-organised in 1917 (Bulletins and Memoires).
- The Mathematical and Physical Society of Egypt, founded in 1936 (Proceedings).
- The Egyptian Royal Medical Association, founded in 1919 (Journal).
Reference should be made to the Royal Prizes in Science which have graciously been founded by His Majesty King Farouk. These consist of four annual prizes each of value £E. 1,000 (about £1,025), to be awarded for the best contributions to the progress of science. The prizes are one for mathematical and physical sciences, one for biology, one for chemistry and one for geology. A committee, presided over by the Minister of Education, has been appointed to consider the conditions for awarding these prizes.
The number of scientific workers in Egypt has increased considerably since the foundation of the Faculty of Science of the Fouad I University at Cairo in 1925. This has been accompanied by the development of a number of societies dealing with various branches of science, among which special mention may be made of the Société Entomologique d'Égypte, with its fine series of Bulletins and Mémoires dating from 1907. There has arisen also a demand for some institution where scientific specialists could meet and exchange ideas, for the famous Institut d'Égypte, founded by Napoleon, covers too wide a range of interests to meet these requirements. Accordingly, a group of nine Egyptians representing different branches of science met together in 1944 and founded an Egyptian Academy of Sciences, with Professor Mohamed Khalil Bey as its secretary. The main objects of the new Academy are to stimulate a wider interest in science in general, and lead to more cooperation between men of science and a better coordination of their efforts.
The first volume of the Proceedings for 1945, published in 1946, has just been received, and comprises six articles dealing with biological subjects. All are written in English, but full abstracts in Arabic are included.
The first article, by the editor, Prof K Mansour, is devoted to an account of the Zooxanthellae, and the food and feeding habits of the Tridacnidae, in which the author attributes the large size reached by these lamellibranchs to their efficient feeding mechanism, and capacity of sieving huge quantities of water. The following article by Dr J J Mansour-Bek deals with the digestive enzymes of Tridacna elongata and Pinctada vulgaris. In both papers the views of Prof C M Yonge and others, as to the importance of intra-cellular digestion in these lamellibranchs, are strongly criticized. Prof Y S Sabet describes the reaction of Citrus mycorrhiza to manurial treatment, and Z Ahmed the effect of some environmental conditions on the growth and alkaloidal content of Hyoscyamus muticus. The nervous control of melanophores in the Egyptian chameleon is the subject of an interesting communication by Dr A M Farghaly, and finally Dr H. Said discusses the reaction of cotton, beans and other plants to colchicine treatment.
The difficulties attending publication in a foreign language have resulted in an unduly large number of printer's errors, but these do not affect the general standard of the Proceedings. Men of science in other countries will welcome the appearance of this publication and wish the new Academy every success. The Proceedings can be obtained either by exchange of corresponding publications, or by subscription (one Egyptian pound per annum). Communications should be addressed to the Hon. Secretary, Dar el Hikma, 42 Kasr Aini Street, Cairo, Egypt.