Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/711

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SKETCH OF JAMES CRAIG WATSON.

ical power which would raise eight tons to the height of one hundred feet. Such is the energy with which the molecules of bodies grasp each other; such is the strength of the solder which binds the universe together.—Chambers^ Journal.

 
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SKETCH OF JAMES CRAIG WATSON.
By ALEXANDER WINCHELL, LL. D.

JAMES CRAIG WATSON, Professor of Astronomy in the University of Wisconsin, and Director of the Washburne Observatory at Madison, Wisconsin, died on the morning of November 23, 1880, after an illness of one week, at the age of forty-two years and ten months. Professor Watson was one of the most gifted and distinguished of modern astronomers, and his life-work is identified with the name of the University of Michigan.

He was born of American parentage, during a sojourn of his parents in Middlesex (now Elgin) County, Ontario, January 28, 1838. The mathematical genius revealed by the boy at the early age of nine determined the father to secure him a liberal education, and the family accordingly removed to Ann Arbor in 1850. Here James displayed equal aptitude for mathematical and linguistic studies, and, being prepared for college, almost without the evidences of effort, he entered the University of Michigan in the autumn of 1853. He attained equal scholarly distinction as a student of ancient and modern languages and of mathematics. It is said that, before the close of his junior year, he had performed the phenomenal feat of reading from beginning to end the "Mécanique Céleste" of Laplace. During his senior year, he was the solitary pupil of Dr. Brünnow, and graduated in 1857. His mechanical tact was such that, in the absence of a mathematical bent, he would have become an eminent mechanician and inventor. While in college, some of his spare hours were spent in grinding lenses and the construction of a telescope. Other portions of his time he was compelled to devote to the earning of means to defray collegiate expenses.

During the two years succeeding his graduation, he was employed as assistant in the Observatory, and in the prosecution of studies for his second degree. In this work he .displayed such remarkable aptitude as an observer, and such marvelous rapidity in his computations, that, on the retirement of Dr. Brünnow, in June, 1859, young Watson succeeded him in the chair of Astronomy. He was already known as a frequent contributor to the "American Journal of Science," Brünnow's "Astronomical Notices," Gould's "Astronomical Journal," and the "Astronomische Nachrichten," of Altona. Not less than twelve