Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 64.djvu/193

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By the death of Professor R. H. Thurston education and science suffer a serious loss. His activity was wide reaching and entirely beneficent. As a physicist he was not the peer of Gibbs and Rowland, but his work covered such a broad field and was so large in quantity that the highest exactness could scarcely be attained. His special researches in thermodynamics and their applications to the steam-engine have given him an eminent place among scientific men, while his conduct of Sibley College has proved him to be one of the educational leaders of the country. While thus carrying on the work of two men, he devoted himself unsparingly to every good cause. Innumerable demands on his time and patience were met cheerfully and helpfully. His death is a personal loss to every one who knew him, and is at the same time a public misfortune.

Thurston was born at Providence, R. I., on October 25, 1839. His death from heart disease occurred with entire suddenness on his sixty-fourth birthday, while he was awaiting guests whom he had invited to his house. He was educated at Brown University and in his father's shops. At the outbreak of the civil war he enlisted in the naval engineer corps, and served with distinction. He was on the Monitor in its famous engagement with the Merrimac and later was first assistant in charge of the ironclad Dictator. At the end of the war he became professor of natural philosophy in the U. S. Naval Academy, and in 1871 accepted the chair of engineering in Stevens Institute of Technology. In 1885 he accepted a professorship in mechanical engineering at Cornell University and the directorship of Sibley College. Under him the college was organized and, chiefly through his personal efforts during the past eighteen years, it has attained its present preeminent position. There are this year nearly a thousand students in the college, and its courses of study have set standards for other institutions. While thus engaged in constant teaching and arduous administrative work, Thurston was equally occupied with investigation and publication. He was the author of eleven books and of some three hundred papers. In this journal will be found many of his more popular articles, and in the present number we have the sad privilege of publishing his last paper. He was one of the editors of Science and of Johnson's and Appleton's Cyclopædias. He was constantly engaged on committees and commissions, and took an active part in scientific and educational societies. He was three times president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was first president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.


Science and education have always ignored the boundaries of nations and have been important factors in promoting peace and good-will. It is a most extraordinary fact that there should have been 10,000 students from all parts of Europe at Bologne in the thirteenth century. The origin of the words 'university' and 'college' appears to have been in the separation of the students from different countries into guilds, and the organization of the studium generale was definitely based on the division into 'nations.' Teachers, as well as students, migrated from