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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/89

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THE PRUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCE.

during the period from 1786 to 1812 it numbered thirty-two mathematicians and naturalists among its members. Gerhard, mineralogist and chemist; the elder Walter, the anatomist; Achard, the chemist, were of Frederick the Great's time. Ferber, though in the academy only a short period, was the founder of modern geognosy. Some of these men did a great deal to increase the usefulness and fame of the academy. Yet there was no mathematician in its ranks equal to Euler or Lagrange. Willdenow, nephew of Gleditsch, in charge of the botanic garden, though dying at the early age of forty-seven, carried out and improved his uncle's plans. Bursdorf laid the foundations of the science of forestry, from which Germany has received such rich returns. Though Prussia was far behind in her knowledge of chemistry, Klaproth, through the academy, did a great deal for the science by introducing correct opinions in regard to its nature and by improving the methods of its study. As an independent analytical chemist he proved to be one of the most famous chemists of his time, inferior only to Berzelius of Sweden. He discovered four new elements. Alexander von Humboldt, traveler and scientist, an author of world-wide fame, Leopold von Buch, the first geognosist of the century, and hardly less famous than Humboldt, and Buttmann, the grammarian, belong to that group of scholars, thinkers, investigators and writers who laid the foundations upon which the fame of German scholarship in the last century largely rests. The change which had taken place in the spirit and aims of the academy within the period under review, typical as it was of the change which had taken place in the universities and in the nation, was that of a generation. A new era had dawned, an era which was ready to extend a hearty welcome to new men, new methods of studv and research, a new life, a new and more accurate scholarship.