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COLUMBINE—COLUMBIUM

include works embodying the results of original research published by the University Press; “Studies” published in the form of a series by each of several departments, various periodicals edited by some members of the faculty, such as the Columbia University Quarterly, the Political Science Quarterly, and the School of Mines Quarterly; and several papers or periodicals published by the students, among which are the Columbia Spectator, a daily paper, the Columbia Law Review, the Columbia Monthly and the Columbia Jester.

With two or three unimportant exceptions the buildings of the university on Morningside Heights have been erected since 1896. They include, besides the several department buildings, a library building, a university hall (with gymnasium), Earl Hall (for social purposes), St Paul’s chapel (dedicated in 1907), two residence halls for men, and one for women. The library contains about 450,000 volumes exclusive of duplicates and unbound pamphlets. The highest authority in the government of the institution is vested in a board of twenty-four trustees, vacancies in which are filled by co-optation; but the immediate educational interests are directed largely by the members of the university council, which is composed of the president of the university, the dean and one other representative from the faculty of each school. The institution is maintained by the proceeds from an endowment fund exceeding $15,000,000, by tuition fees ranging, according to the school, from $150 to $250 for each student, and by occasional gifts for particular objects.

The charter (1754) providing for the establishment of King’s College was so free from narrow sectarianism as to name ministers of five different denominations for ex-officio governors, and the purpose of the institution as set forth by its first president, Dr Samuel Johnson (1696–1772) was about as broad as that now realised. In 1756 the erection of the first building was begun at the lower end of Manhattan Island, near the Hudson, and the institution prospered from the beginning. From 1776 to 1784, during the War of Independence, the exercises of the college were suspended and the library and apparatus were stored in the New York city hall. In 1784 the name was changed to Columbia College, and an act of the legislature was passed for creating a state university, of which Columbia was to be the basis. But the plan was not a success, and three years later, in 1787, the act was repealed and the administration of Columbia was entrusted to a board of trustees of which the present board is a successor. In 1857 there was an extensive re-organization by which the scope of the institution was much enlarged, and at the same time it was removed to a new site on Madison Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. From 1890 to 1895 much centralization in its administration was effected, in 1896 the name of Columbia University was adopted, and in the autumn of 1897 the old site and buildings were again abandoned for new, this time on Morningside Heights.

See A History of Columbia University, by members of the faculty (New York, 1904); and J. B. Pine, “King’s College, now Columbia University,” in Historic New York (New York, 1897).


COLUMBINE (Ital. columbina, from columba, a dove), in pantomime (q.v.) the fairy-like dancer who is courted by Harlequin. In the medieval Italian popular comedy she was Harlequin’s daughter.


COLUMBINE, an erect perennial herbaceous plant known botanically as Aquilegia vulgaris (natural order Ranunculaceae). In Med. Latin it was known as Columbina sc. herba, the dove’s plant. The slender stem bears delicate, long-stalked, deeply divided leaves with blunt segments, and a loose panicle of handsome drooping blue or white flowers, which are characterized by having all the five petals spurred. The plant occurs wild in woods and thickets in England and Ireland, and flowers in early summer. It is well known in cultivation as a favourite spring flower, in many varieties, some of which have red flowers.

Britannica Columbite.png
Crystal of Columbite.

COLUMBITE, a rare mineral consisting of iron niobate, FeNb2O6, in which the iron and niobium are replaced by varying amounts of manganese and tantalum respectively, the general formula being (Fe, Mn) (Nb, Ta)2O6. It was in this mineral that Charles Hatchett discovered, in 1801, the element niobium, which he himself called columbium after the country (Columbia or America) whence came the specimen in the British Museum collection which he examined. The species has also been called niobite. It crystallizes in the orthorhombic system, and the black, opaque crystals are often very brilliant with a sub-metallic lustre. Twinned crystals are not uncommon, and there is a distinct cleavage parallel to the face marked b in the figure. Hardness 6; specific gravity 5.3. With increasing amount of tantalum the specific gravity increases up to 7.3, and members at this end of the series are known as tantalite (FeTa2O6). Specimens in which the iron is largely replaced by manganese are known as manganocolumbite or manganotantalite, according as they contain more niobium or more tantalum. Columbite occurs as crystals and compact masses in granite and pegmatite at Rabenstein in Lower Bavaria, the Ilmen Mountains in the Urals, Haddam in Connecticut, and several other localities in the United States; also in the cryolite of Greenland. Tantalite is from Finland, and it has recently been found in some abundance in the deposits of cassiterite in the tin-field of Greenbushes in the Blackwood district, Western Australia.

Dimorphous with columbite and tantalite are the tetragonal minerals tapiolite (= skogbölite) and mossite, so that the four form an isodimorphous group with the general formula (Fe, Mn) (Nb, Ta)2O6. Mossite is from a pegmatite vein near Moss in Norway, and tapiolite is from Finland. All these minerals contain tin in small amount.  (L. J. S.) 


COLUMBIUM, or Niobium (symbol Cb or Nb, atomic weight 94), one of the metallic elements of the nitrogen group, first detected in 1801 by C. Hatchett in a specimen of columbite (niobite) from Massachusetts (Phil. Trans. 1802, 49). It is usually found associated with tantalum, the chief minerals containing these two elements being tantalite, columbite, fergusonite and yttrotantalite; it is also a constituent of pyrochlor, euxenite and samarskite. Columbium compounds are usually prepared by fusing columbite with an excess of acid potassium sulphate, boiling out the fused mass with much water, and removing tin and tungsten from the residue by digestion with ammonium sulphide, any iron present being simultaneously converted into ferrous sulphide. The residue is washed, extracted by dilute hydrochloric acid, and again well washed with boiling water. It is then dissolved in hydrofluoric acid and heated in order to expel silicon fluoride; finally the columbium, tantalum and titanium fluorides are separated by the different solubilities of their double fluorides (C. Marignac, Ann. chim. et phys. 1866 [4], 8, p. 63; 1868, 13, p. 28; see also W. Gibbs, Jahresb. 1864, p. 685; R. D. Hall and E. F. Smith, Proc. Amer. Philos. Soc. 1905, 44, p. 177).

The metal was first obtained by C. W. Blomstrand (Journ. prak. Chem. 1866, 97, p. 37) by reducing the chloride with hydrogen; it has more recently been prepared by H. Moissan by reducing the oxide with carbon in the electric furnace (the product obtained always contains from 2-3% of combined carbon), and by H. Goldschmidt and C. Vautin (Journ. Soc. Chem. Industry, 1898, 19, p. 543) by reducing the oxide with aluminium powder. As obtained by the reduction of the chloride, it is a steel grey powder of specific gravity 7.06. It burns on heating in air; and is scarcely attacked by hydrochloric or nitric acids, or by aqua regia; it is soluble in warm concentrated sulphuric acid.

Columbium hydride, CbH, is obtained as a greyish metallic powder, when the double fluoride, CbF5, 2KF, is reduced with sodium. It burns when heated in air, and is soluble in warm concentrated sulphuric acid. Three oxides of columbium are certainly known, namely the dioxide, Cb2O2, the tetroxide, Cb2O4, and the pentoxide, Cb2O5, whilst a fourth oxide, columbium trioxide, Cb2O3, has been described by E. F. Smith and P. Maas (Zeit. f. anorg. Chem. 1894, 7, p. 97). Columbium dioxide, Cb2O2, is formed when dry potassium columbium oxyfluoride is reduced by sodium (H. Rose, Pogg. Ann. 1858, 104, p. 312). It burns readily in air, and is converted into the pentoxide when fused with acid potassium sulphate. Columbium