Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/171

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167
THE OLD ACADEMY OF SCIENCE, PARIS

writings, and especially by his theories of the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn and his determination of their periods, brought the academy no little honor. The discovery of periodic stars in Hydra in 1704, by Joseph Maraldi, a nephew of D'Cassini, made an epoch in the scientific world. Through the influence of the academy astronomers in different parts of Europe were induced to study phenomena which as yet few had observed and none had explained. Brodiger's proposed explanations of the parhelia and the halos of the moon were deemed worthy of study at Greenwich and many other observatories. Bouguer in the Cordilleras saw aureoles surrounding his own shadow. After protracted and unsatisfactory discussions the academy decided to send an expedition to the pole and to the equator to measure the length of the meridian and determine the exact figure of the earth. La Condamine, accompanied by Bouguer and Godin, a young astronomer, not yet known to science, were sent to Peru in 1735. Maupertuis, Clairaut, Camus and Lamonier went to Lapland. At the suggestion of the minister, Maurepas, the expenses of the expeditions were paid out of the royal treasury. These expeditions and the increased knowledge which they obtained added very much to the scientific reputation of France as well as to that of the academy.

Yet disputes in the academy continued. Men like Maupertuis felt that their knowledge and reputation gave them the privilege of directing others. But men like Bouguer and Condamine resented the proffered instruction even of savants so distinguished as Clairaut and Maupertuis. These disagreements did not, however, prevent the academy from continuing steadily at its work. The journeys to the pole and the equator had furnished data from which it was shown that the earth is a flattened spheroid, though a century later Svanberg, a Swede, discovered errors in the calculations by which it had been made too flat. Condamine had taken with him as helpers an engineer, a horologist, a designer, and Joseph de Jussieu, destined to become famous as a botanist. Condamine was not satisfied with doing that for which he had been sent, and at his own expense and with great risk explored the Amazon. On this expedition he lost his thumbs and his ears. In 1738 he made quinine known to the world. Although not receiving the honor at home which he deserved, he has been called the Alexander von Humboldt of his time.

In 1749 an expedition was sent out to determine the moon's parallax. Efforts had been put forth in this direction as early as 1714. Observations at Berlin and the Cape of Good Hope had not been satisfactory. To secure better results Lacaille went to the Cape, Lalande to Berlin, Brody to Greenwich, Zandetti to Bologna, Wargentin to Stockholm, while Cassini de Thury remained in Paris. It was suggested that the phenomena to be studied should be observed at the same time at these different points. This friendship of scientists was better for the world,