Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/372

This page has been validated.

went, but it was never allowed to complete even one revolution in this last ellipse, for in 1886 it collided with Jupiter, as has been already described, and its path was changed to the small ellipse in which the justly famous comet is now moving, and in which it will continue to move for a number of years to come.



WHEN the newspapers lately announced the names of eminent electricians which are to adorn the Electrical Building at the Columbian World's Fair in Chicago in 1893, we were surprised, nay, disappointed, to find that the respective officials left out the name of a man of science whose merits would fully entitle him to that honor. We mean Prokop Divis, the man who, before Franklin, discovered the identity of lightning and electricity, and the issuing of electricity from metallic points, two important truths which led him to construct a lightning conductor. But his modesty (he was a Catholic priest and a thorough scholar), and the ignorance of others combined, caused his name nearly to be forgotten. The Encyclopædia Britannica knows nothing of him, while the German Conversations Lexicon of Brockhaus (Volume V, page 406) disposes of his two great discoveries exactly in two sentences. The only mention of him we find in English literature is a short sketch in the Historical Magazine for February, 1868 (page 93, article xii), which is a translation from a French periodical. As the life of Divis is of itself sufficiently interesting, we hope to be justified in presenting a few more details of his life to the readers of this magazine. Our article is based chiefly upon a sketch in the Bohemian Encyclopædia of Rieger and Maly (Volume I, pages 209, 210, and Volume III, page 941).

Prokop Divis (Dyiv'ish) was born on the 1st of August, 1696, in the town of Zamberk (its German name is Senftenberg), in northeastern Bohemia, of Bohemian parents. At the gymnasium of Znojmo he received the rudiments of higher education, and afterward entered the Premonstratensian order at Luka. On November 30, 1720, he bound himself with the three monastic vows, and six years later took the holy orders. On account of his high scholarship, he was soon after appointed Professor of Philosophy in the Lyceum of Luka. A special feature of his lectures were various experiments in physics, with which, contrary to all precedents, he liked to illustrate the subjects discussed. It will be remembered that the Church has never looked with favor