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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/124

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ought to be, or reprimanded by ignorant pedagogues for not studying languages, dead in every sense to one who could judge of the relative value of things. This repeated rejection of his manuscript by the leading American journal was the most depressing factor in his life.

About this time. Maxwell's great work on Electricity and Magnetism appeared, and Mr. Rowland recognized there the system of units which he had himself invented, as well as many other of his ideas. He also recognized in the author a master mind of the very highest order. He compared this work with his rejected manuscript and said to himself: "This is the judge I want; I am either a fool, suitable for an asylum only, or my work is good. I shall send my papers to this great man and find out." The paper went, and the kindest of letters from the great Maxwell came back, saying that the paper was of the highest value, and had been sent to the Philosophical Magazine of London! This verdict naturally eliminated the "depressing factor" above referred to.

This "paper" appeared promptly and established Mr. Rowland's reputation. It is considered to-day the beginning of the modern exact study of magnetism. It was, perhaps, the main cause of his selection for the chair of Physics in the Johns Hopkins University.

While teaching at Troy, he visited his uncle, who was chaplain at West Point. Here he first met Prof. Gilman, who had just been elected President of the projected Johns Hopkins University. Prof. Rowland had been cordially introduced to Prof. Gilman by Prof. Michie. President Gilman was anxious to secure the best man in both hemispheres for the chair of Physics in the new university, over which he was to preside, and at his suggestion the Board of Trustees of Johns Hopkins University wrote to Clerk Maxwell, Lord Rayleigh, Lord Kelvin (then Sir William Thompson), Baron von Helmholtz, and other European scientists for the name of the ablest physicist known to them. With singular unanimity these foreign specialists replied that the most original thinker in the domain of physics was, in their opinion, an American named Rowland, of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, of Troy,N. Y.! Thus indorsed by Europe and America, the position was offered to Prof. Rowland and accepted. He still holds it.

When this flattering offer was accepted, Johns Hopkins University was not prepared to open its doors to students, and President Gilman suggested that Prof. Rowland should take a year's leave of absence. This suggestion coincided perfectly with Prof. Rowland's plans. He went abroad, and was for a while the guest of the great Maxwell. Now, for the first time, he