AAAS Archives Site

150 Years of Advancing Science: A History of AAAS
AAAS and Science: 1900-1940

Through Science and annual meetings, AAAS did much in the first part of the century to serve its constitutional objectives of furthering the work of scientists and facilitating cooperation among them. Zoologist Edmund B. Wilson (1913 AAAS president) was first to publish photographs of the details of cell division. T.H. Morgan (1930 AAAS president) extended this work with his pioneering genetic experiments with Drosophila melanogaster, published in Science in 1910.  Morgan, winner of the 1933 Nobel Prize in medicine, raised his Drosophila in milk bottles. 

Albert Einstein made his first appearance before a U.S. scientific association at the 1934 AAAS meeting in Pittsburgh and published his formulation of the principle of gravitational lensing in a paper in Science in December 1936. 

In 1923, with the anonymous support of Newcomb Cleveland of New York, AAAS established its annual "Thousand Dollar Prize" to reward younger scientists presenting their research at a AAAS annual meeting.  Early recipients included H. J. Muller, for a paper on "The Influence of X-Rays on Genes and Chromosomes," reporting work for which he later won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.  Other winners included, in 1923, Edwin P. Hubble (35 years old) of Mount Wilson Observatory for his studies of spiral nebulae and, in 1930, Merle Tuve (age 29) of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, for work on high energy beta and gamma rays. The prize took Cleveland's name after his death in 1951.  It was increased to $5,000 and redefined to honor authors of papers in Science in 1976.

The High Voltage Tube at the Carnegie Institution of Washington
The High Voltage Tube at the Carnegie Institution of Washington.  Left to right: unknown; M.A. Tuve and L. R. Hafstad.  Photo from The Scientific Monthly, February 1931.

AAAS took over responsibility for the Gibson Island Research Conferences in 1938.  The annual series of summer conferences had been established by Neil Gordon in 1931.  AAAS subsequently bought (and later sold) the Gibson Island property on which the conferences were held.  The conferences stimulate research by providing an opportunity for intensive, off-the-record discussions of specific problems.  They were renamed in honor of Gordon in 1948.  Considered today a "participating organization" of AAAS, the Gordon Research Conferences continue to publish their programs in Science.

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