Men of the Time, eleventh edition/Adams, John Couch

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ADAMS, John Couch, F.R.S., is the son of a small farmer near Bodmin, in Cornwall, where he was born about 1818. He entered at St. John's College, Cambridge, was Senior Wrangler in 1843, was soon after elected to a fellowship, and became one of the mathematical tutors of his college. In 1841 he applied himself to the investigation of the irregularities in the motion of Uranus, in order to find out whether they might be attributed to the action of some unknown planet, and thence, if possible, to determine approximately the elements of its orbit. In 1814, through Professor Challis, a correspondence was opened with the Astronomer Royal; and in October, 1845, Mr. Adams sent to the Greenwich Observatory a paper of results, showing that the perturbations of Uranus were caused by some planet within certain assumed limits. The Astronomer Royal wrote to him, Nov. 5, inquiring whether the perturbation would explain the error of the radius vector of Uranus; but from some unexplained cause, Mr. Adams delayed his reply. On the 10th of the same month M. Le Verrier published in the "Comptes Rendus" of the French Academy, a paper on "The Perturbation of Uranus produced by Jupiter and Saturn;" and the place assigned by him to the disturbing planet was the same, within one degree, as that calculated by Mr. Adams. The Council of the Royal Society doubted whether their annual medal was due to Mr. Adams or to M. Le Verrier; but ultimately, as there was no precedent in favour of bestowing a double medal, they decided on conferring a testimonial on each claimant instead. In January, 1847, Mr. Adams privately circulated a paper explanatory of "The observed Irregularities in the Motion of Uranus," which was subsequently reprinted in the "Nautical Almanack" for 1851. In 1858 he succeeded the late Dean Peacocke as Lowndean Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge.