Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/130

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parts of a visible order. Religion does not tell us of their inter-relations; science can not speak of their relation to God. Yet the religious view of the world is infinitely deepened and enriched when we not only recognize it as the work of God, but are able to trace the relation of part to part—to follow, if we may say it reverently, the steps by which God worked, to eliminate, so far as possible, from the action of Him, "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning," all that is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, and even where as yet we can not explain, to go on in faith and hope.—The Guardian.


THE history of physics in our century is not poor in eminent thinkers and great investigators; but it is safe to predict, as Prof. August Heller remarks, that when the student of a future age takes his perspective view of the achieved results of our contemporary research, he will pronounce Kirchhoff one of the greatest of them all. Yet, although his works have made his name immortal, and must cause it always to be in mind where physics is taught, so simple and modest was he as he is presented to us in Robert von Helmholtz's delineation of him, that his person is quite hidden behind the science to which he devoted his life; and that few, except fellow-laborers in the same lines and those who were so happy as to have had close relations with him, are aware of the extent and importance of his labors outside of the field of spectrum analysis.

Gustav Robert Kirchhoff was born—the son of counselor-at-law Kirchhoff—at Königsberg, Prussia, March 12, 1834. Having passed the course of the Kneiphof Gymnasium, he continued his studies at the Albertina in his native city, under Neumann in physics, and Julius Richelot in mathematics; and there, in his eighteenth year, decided that physics was the branch that pressed the strongest claims upon his attention. It was a period of rapid progress and important discoveries in science. Mayer had published his first paper concerning the forces of inanimate Nature, on the eve of the working out by several independent observers of the law of correlation and conservation; the undulatory theory of light had been established, but its mathematical conditions and its adjustment to facts remained to be worked out; and the wonderful properties and powers of electricity were under investigation by students at different centers, whose names have since become identified with various aspects of electrical theory. Kirchhoff, now entering upon the study of these same