Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/100

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96
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

WOLCOTT GIBBS

Oliver Wolcott Gibbs, one of the few great men of science given to the world by the United States during the first part of the nineteenth century, died at his home in Newport on December 9. He was born in New York City on February 21, 1822, his father. Colonel George Gibbs, being one of the earliest American mineralogists, and his mother, Laura Wolcott, the daughter of Oliver Wolcott, secretary of the treasury under Washington and Adams, being an artist of ability. Gibbs graduated from Columbia College in 1841, and received the degree of doctor of medicine from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1845. In the meanwhile he had been assistant to Dr. Robert Hare, professor of chemistry in the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania. The next three years were spent abroad; and work was carried on in the laboratories of Rammelsberg and Rose in Berlin, Liebig in Giessen and Regnault in Paris. In 1849 he became professor of chemistry and physics in the Free Academy, later the College of the City of New York, and in 1863 he was elected Rumford professor in Harvard University. In 1887 he became professor emeritus and retired to his home at Newport, where he equipped a laboratory for his chemical researches.

The researches that he accomplished give distinction to this country. His work on the electrolytic deposition of copper as a means of quantitative analysis has become of great significance, and many other methods of quantitative analysis were improved under his guidance. Other works of great importance were his extended experimental studies of complex salts, especially the cobaltamine compounds and those containing some of the rarer elements. These are of great theoretical interest, owing to their relation to theories of molecular structure.

Gibbs was the last surviving founder of the National Academy of Sciences, which he served as president; he had been general secretary, vice-president and president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences and the only American honorary member of the German Chemical Society. His work was recognized by many other societies, and by honorary degrees conferred by Columbia, Harvard, Pennsylvania, George Washington and Toronto Universities. A portrait of Gibbs was published in The Popular Science Monthly for June, 1900. There is here reproduced a letter addressed to the editor in answer to a request for an article. This letter illustrates the courtesy and kindness not less characteristic of Wolcott Gibbs than the eminence of his services to science.

 

OTIS T. MASON

Otis Tufton Mason, head curator of the department of anthropology in the United States National Museum, died at Washington on November 5, in his seventy-first year. He was the son of John and Rachel Thompson (Lincoln) Mason, and was born at Eastport, Maine, April 10, 1838. He was graduated from Columbian (now George Washington) University as A.B. in 1861 (A.M., 1862; Ph.D., 1879; LL.D., 1898). In the following year he married Sarah E. Henderson, and at once entered on his career as a teacher. As principal of the preparatory department of Columbian College, from 1861 to 1884, he used his oppor-