Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/521

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505
SKETCH OF PROFESSOR COFFIN.

tion, agricultural epochs, the migration of birds, etc., were introduced. A determination was also made of the amount of rise in the thermometer per hour, during the prevalence of winds from the northeast by east to south-southwest, and the unequal corresponding decrease of temperature when the winds were from the northwesterly points of compass.

While at Williams College, Prof. Coffin erected, upon the Greylock peak of Saddle Mountain, at a height of nearly 4,000 feet above the ocean, an observatory, where continuous observations were taken, even through the winter season, when for three months it was impracticable to ascend the peak. In this interval the clock-work faithfully did its entire duty. The anemometer had been changed by substituting for the stream of sand a series of cards half an inch square, laid consecutively on a moving band that deposited one of them every fifteen minutes. Each card being inscribed with the day and hour it represented, when the receptacle marked " North," for example, was examined, all the cards found in it indicated the exact quarter-hour in the past three months when the wind was from that direction. In 1872 he constructed, for the observatory of the Argentine Confederation, at Cordova, a duplicate of this instrument, with improvements by John M. Junkin, M. D., similar to the one in use at Lafayette College.

The "Results of Meteorological Observations for 1854-'59," in two volumes, quarto, 1757 pages, prepared under his supervision, under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution, constitute a vast fund of condensed material from which to study the climate of North America.

But the great work of Prof. Coffin's life was the development of his theory of the winds, under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution, the following account of which has been furnished us by Prof. Henry, Secretary of the Institution:

The results of the scientific labors of Prof. Coffin include contributions to astronomy, mathematics, and especially to meteorology. His labors in regard to the latter branch of science commenced immediately after his graduation, and were continued, almost uninterruptedly, until the time of his death. He was early recognized as one of the meteorologists of the country, and, on the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution, he was invited to become one of its collaborators in that line. All the materials which were collected from the observers of the Institution, and from those of the army from 1854 to 1859 inclusive, were placed in his hands for reduction and discussion. This work was conscientiously and thoroughly performed, and the results published in a quarto volume of upward of 1200 pages. In conducting this work, Prof. Coffin engaged the services of some of the students of Lafayette College, and a large number of women. The wages of these computers were paid by an appropriation from Con-