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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/18

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

iology, one in physics, one in chemistry and one which was introduced by Cuvier in 1795, in comparative pathology, anatomy and anthropology.

The new zoological galleries, begun in 1882 and opened to the public for use in 1889, were during his life under the care of de Quatrefages.

The museums of geology and mineralogy are very large and complete. In the building in which they are found are the library, the herbarium and the orangery. The museum celebrated its hundredth birthday in 1896. Its treasures are nearly all accessible to the public, although there seems to be a love for destruction on the part of the public against which constant watchfulness is necessary. Eminent as the professors in the museum are in the scientific world, they devote themselves so completely to their studies that in Paris many of their names are unknown.

 

The Observatory

It was to meet the wants of members of the Academy of Sciences, as well as to take the lead in every form of scientific work, that Colbert with the approval of Louis XIV. laid, in 1666, the foundation of what has proved to be one of the best observatories in Europe. A good deal of astronomical work had been done in the previous century: at Cassell, and at Unranienberg, where Tycho Brahe had been stationed and where his observatory late in the century was destroyed by the fury of the people and he himself compelled to flee to Germany for protection. During this century nearly all the observatories were private property and were poorly equipped. In the next century greater interest was taken in astronomy and many of the superstitions connected with its study had passed away.

It was quite natural that Colbert, who was determined that if possible Paris should be the scientific as well as the literary center of Europe, should persuade the king to make generous provision for an observatory and to invite the most eminent astronomers living to make Paris their home. Jeán Dominique Cassini was brought from Italy and with him were associated Frenchmen hardly less eminent than he, Philippe de la Hire and the Abbé Picard.

The observatory was on St. Jacques street over the catacombs, some of which were utilized as laboratories and as lunettes, an object glass being placed at one end and an eye glass at the other. An interesting account has come down to us of a visit of the king to the observatory on May 21, 1682. He was received with becoming honor, and the working of the instruments, in which he seemed deeply interested, was carefully explained to him by Cassini and his associates. The site which members of the Academy of Sciences had selected, June 21, 1667, was an attractive one. It was in the midst of gardens and yet commanded