1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Glaisher, James

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GLAISHER, JAMES (1809–1903), English meteorologist and aeronaut, was born in London on the 7th of April 1809. After serving for a few years on the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, he acted as an assistant at the Cambridge and Greenwich observatories successively, and when the department of meteorology and magnetism was formed at the latter, he was entrusted with its superintendence, which he continued to exercise for thirty-four years, until his retirement from the public service. In 1845 he published his well-known dew-point tables, which have gone through many editions. In 1850 he established the Meteorological Society, acting as its secretary for many years, and in 1866 he assisted in the foundation of the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain. He was appointed a member of the royal commission on the warming and ventilation of dwellings in 1875, and for twelve years from 1880 acted as chairman of the executive committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund. But his name is best known in connexion with the series of balloon ascents which he made between 1862 and 1866, mostly in company with Henry Tracey Coxwell. Many of these ascents were arranged by a committee of the British Association, of which he was a member, and were strictly scientific in character, the object being to carry out observations on the temperature, humidity, &c., of the atmosphere at high elevations. In one of them, that which took place at Wolverhampton on the 5th of September 1862, Glaisher and his companion attained the greatest height that had been reached by a balloon carrying passengers. As no automatically recording instruments were available, and Glaisher was unable to read the barometer at the highest point owing to loss of consciousness, the precise altitude can never be known, but it is estimated at about 7 m. from the earth. He died on the 7th of February 1903 at Croydon.