Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Becker, George Ferdinand

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BECKER, George Ferdinand, geologist, b. in New York city, 5 Jan., 1847. He was graduated at Harvard in 1868, studied at Heidelberg, receiving the degree of Ph. D. in 1869, and, two years later, passed the final examination of the Royal School of Mines in Berlin. From 1875 till 1879 he was instructor of mining and metallurgy in the University of California, and in 1879 he became connected with the U. S. Geological Survey, and later was placed in charge of the California division of geology. In 1880 he was appointed special agent of the 10th census, and in 1882 was further appointed special agent in charge of the investigation of the precious-metal industries. His most important writings are “Geometrical Form of Volcanic Cones” (1885); “Notes on the Stratigraphy of California” (1885); “Cretaceous Metamorphic Rocks of California” (1886); “A Theorem of Maximum Dissipativity” (1886), which is a new fundamental law of mechanics, and one of its consequences is “A New Law of Thermo-Chemistry” (1886), which embraces the previously known laws of this science and makes an important addition to them. He has also written “Atomic-Weight Determinations; A Digest of the Investigations published since 1814” (Washington, 1880); “Geology of the Comstock Lode” (1882); “Statistics and Technology of the Precious Metals,” with S. F. Emmons (1885); and “Geology of the Quicksilver Deposits of the Pacific Slope” (1886).