The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Adams, John Couch

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ADAMS, John Couch, English astronomer: b. in Cornwall, 5 June 1819; d. 21 Jan. 1892. A precocious mathematician, he became senior wrangler at St John's College, Cambridge, and mathematical tutor there. He discovered in 1845, by calculation of the perturbations of Uranus, that another planet must exist beyond it, and fixed its position within two degrees; but search for it not being made, Leverrier of Paris independently made the same discovery next year, and Galle of Berlin at once found the planet (see Neptune. This mathematical discovery of Neptune is justly regarded as one of the greatest triumphs of science. To commemorate it the University of Cambridge founded in 1848 the Adams prize to be awarded biennially for the best essay in astronomy, pure mathematics or other branch of natural philosophy. In 1851 he became president of the Royal Astronomical Society; 1858-59 professor of mathematics at Aberdeen University; 1859-92 Lowndean professor of astronomy and geometry at Cambridge, and in 1861 director of Cambridge Observatory. He was a delegate to the International Prime Meridian Conference at Washington 1884. He received the Copley medal of the Royal Society in 1848. His papers were edited by his brother, William G. Adams, and R. A. Sampson (2 vols., I, 1896; II, 1901).