The New International Encyclopædia/Bache, Alexander Dalles

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Edition of 1905.  See also Alexander Dallas Bache on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

BACHE, bäch, Alexander Dalles (1806-67). An American physicist. He was born in Philadelphia, and was a grandson of Benjamin Franklin. He graduated at West Point,' in 1825, became a lieutenant in the corps of engineers, and remained some time at the Military Academy as instructor. He was employed under Colonel Totten on the fortifications at Newport, where he married Nancy Clarke Fowler. P.ache was appointed professor of natural philosophy and chemistry in the University of Pennsylvania, in 1828, and was an early number of the Franklin Institute, publishing many valuable scientific papers in its journals. He established the first magnetic observatory in the United States, where the periods of the daily variations of the magnetic needle were fully determined, and other interesting observations made. A magnetic survey of Pennsylvania, made by Professor Bache, marks the beginning of the magnetic work since carried on by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. In 18;30 he became president of the trustees of Girard College, and visited Europe to examine educational systems for the information of the board, who were about to organize that institution. His report, submitted in 1838. was of great value in suggesting improvements in educational methods. Before the college was organized. Bache became connected with the public-school system of Philadelphia, and developed the system of free education in that city. At the same time he was actively engaged in scientific work, particularly in the examination of meteorological and magnetic phenomena. In 1842 he returned to his professorship in the university, and in 1843 was appointed superintendent of the United States Coast Survey, succeeding F. R. Hassler, the first incumbent of that position. He reorganized and extended the work of the survey and laid the foundations which have brought the service to its present recognized efficiency.

Professor Bache was also a member of the lighthouse board, superintendent of weights and nuMsures. an incorporator and regent of the Smithsonian Institution, vice-president of the United States Sanitary Commission, president of the American Philosophical Society, president of the American A.ssociation for the Advancement of Science, a founder and member of the National Academy of Sciences, and associate of many important scientific institutions at home and abroad. He was the recipient of many honors, including the degree of LL.D. from several colleges, and medals from foreign governments and learned bodies. He gave $?42,000 to the National Academy of Sciences for the promotion of its work in furthering scientific research. His important works are: Observations at the Magnetic and Meteorological Observatory of Girard College, reports on weights and measures, and various essays in the scientific journals and the proceedings of learned societies. Consult: Henry, "Memoir of Alexander Dallas Bache," Vol. I., Biographical Memoirs National Academy of Sciences. reprinted in Smithsonian Report for 1870.