Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/125

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
115
SKETCH OF NIELS H. C. HOFFMEYER.
SKETCH OF NIELS H. C. HOFFMEYER.

TO Captain Niels Hoffmeyer meteorology owes some of its most important developments, and particularly the organization of what may be called the first ocean weather service.

Niels Henrik Cordulus Hoffmeyer was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, June 3, 1836, the son of Colonel A. B. Hoffmeyer, and died in Copenhagen, February 16, 1884. It was at first intended that he should pursue a professional career, and his studies were begun with a view to that end; but the plan of his education was changed and he was sent to the military academy. He became an officer when eighteen years old, and was given an appointment in the artillery service when his course had been completed. His military effectiveness was impaired by a disposition to rheumatic fever, from which he had suffered in early youth, so that after having been engaged in the Schleswig-Holstein War he was prostrated again in February, 1861; and when the army was reduced at the close of that year he was placed on the retired list. Having spent a few months after his recovery in recruiting at the baths, in 1865 he visited France and spent a year in studying the methods and operations of the iron-foundries at Paris and Nantes. Returning to Denmark, he busied himself in furthering the establishment of similar works at Christiansholm, and while thus engaged was appointed to a post in the War Department and to be a captain of militia in Copenhagen.

His sojourn in France was contemporaneous with, Leverrier's activity in meteorological research and experiments, under the impulse of which the principles that distinguish the modern methods in that science were largely developed. The publication of this student's daily weather map of all Europe in the Bulletin International had been begun only two years before. Hoffmeyer's attention was directed to the subject, and he entered into the study of it with an ardor that greatly redounded to the gain of science. He carried his newly aroused enthusiasm in this work into his war office, where he continued his studies; and when the Meteorological Institute was established in 1872 he was made its director. "There could scarcely be a more fortunate appointment," says Nature, to whose various articles we are chiefly indebted for the materials of this sketch, "for Hoffmeyer was gifted not only with unusual energy, but also with a very pleasant manner, so that he made friends for the new office and for its work wherever he went."

"It was from a singularly clear and firm apprehension of the characteristics of modern meteorology," Nature says in another article, " and an unflinching application of them to the facts of