Physics in 1884, but still retains the Sheffield professorship of Astronomy, of which science he has been the instructor from the organization of the school in 1860.
He spent the summer of 1869 in Europe, for the purpose of collecting mechanical and physical apparatus for the school, and of visiting scientific institutions. He has been a contributor to "The American Journal of Science," "The New-Englander," and other periodicals, and is the originator of various useful inventions, among which are the wave apparatus known by his name, patented and manufactured by Messrs. Ritchie & Sons, of Boston, and a pendulum apparatus for describing Lissajou's acoustic curves, constructed several years in advance of a similar apparatus made in London by Tisley & Spiller.
Professor Lyman is the original inventor of the combined transit instrument and zenith telescope for determining latitude by Talcott's method. This instrument was designed and mainly constructed in 1852-'53, and numerous observations together with a description of the instrument were published in "The American Journal of Science" and elsewhere, some ten years before the construction and published account of a like instrument by Davidson. His aptitude in practical mechanics was of much service to him in devising and constructing apparatus for the lecture-room.
Professor Lyman has been actively interested from the first in the establishment of the Yale Observatory, and is one of its board of managers. His attention has been much given also to practical horology, and some improvements of his in escapements and compensation pendulums have proved practically valuable. He was the first to observe Venus as a delicate ring of light when very near the sun in inferior conjunction, as in December, 1866, and also before and after the transit of Venus in 1874.
He is a member of various scientific and literary bodies, among them the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and was for twenty years President of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Mr. Lyman's life-work has been mainly teaching. He has the quality so necessary in a successful instructor—that of explaining difficulties with great clearness and patience. His uniform practice of treating his students as gentlemen rather than school-boys, and trusting to their sense of honor, has gained for him their universal respect and affection.
- This instrument has been in use for many years, and known by Lyman's name, in the governmental survey of India.