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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/856

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

SKETCH OF PROFESSOR JOHN TROWBRIDGE.

PROFESSOR TROWBRIDGE is the son of a physician, and was born in Boston in 1843. He prepared for Harvard University at the Boston Latin School, but did not join the Freshman class. He entered the Lawrence Scientific School, from which he was graduated in 1866. He was tutor in the Scientific School for the two years succeeding his graduation, and was appointed Assistant Professor of Physics in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1868. In 1870 he was called to Harvard University as Assistant Professor of Physics to establish a laboratory course of instruction. He obtained the degree of Doctor of Science from Harvard in 1873. For the past six years he has been Professor of Experimental Physics in the university.

The descent and early education of scientific men have lately become the subject of investigation by Galton. None of the ancestors of Professor Trowbridge evinced any scientific tastes, although there were several who had strong literary tastes and also legal ability. Professor Trowbridge's father, believing in the adage of Bacon, that a boy, if given the range of a library, will select the food most suitable to his tastes, provided him liberally with books, but not with instructors; and, being fond of art himself, stimulated a certain fondness for drawing in the child. The consequence of this training was that, when the boy at the age of fourteen or fifteen entered the public schools, he had a large amount of desultory information in literature and a facility for drawing, but no systematic training in languages or in mathematics. While, however, many of his comrades who had been carefully trained in schools from an early age grew tired of intellectual effort, he came to the subjects of mathematics and the sciences with a certain freshness which might not have survived too much school-culture at an early age. His strong taste for art made his friends predict an artistic career as the only one suitable for him. His graduation at the Lawrence Scientific School with the degree of Summa cum Laude, and the evidence of strong mathematical tastes, determined his future career.

When Professor Trowbridge came to the university in 1870 as a teacher, the subject of physics was taught merely by lectures and recitations. He immediately secured a small room and fitted it up as a physical laboratory. From this small beginning arose, through his constant endeavor, the Jefferson Physical Laboratory, which is the largest laboratory of the kind at present in America. In order to secure this great means for advancing the study of physical science in the university. Professor Trowbridge has given his best efforts for the past ten years in the direction of personal solicitation, and by publishing in