Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/181

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FRANCIS GALTON

vance geographical teaching. In the initiation of this movement for a larger place for the science of geography in education Mr. Galton had a pioneer part. First the public schools were interested in annual competitions for gold and bronze medals to be awarded for the best papers in the competitive examination. This not only interested the students, but it also showed up for correction weaknesses in the current instruction. Later the problem of geography in the university was taken up, and it probably has now a firm foothold at both Oxford and Cambridge.

Physical Sciences and Meteorology

Francis Galton's contribution to the physical sciences, conventionally so called, was not large. We find no paper on chemistry, and those of a physical or mathematical character impress one as the recreations of a brilliantly ingenious amateur rather than the wood hewing and the water drawing of the trained and speciality limited professional. It would be hardly fair to quote as examples of his work in this field such experiments as those with spectacles for divers or stereoscopic maps for tourists, although these may be in a way illustrative for ingenuity. Neither can his printing electric telegraph or his suggested principle for the protection of riflemen be regarded as strictly typical. These do not seem to belong on the same thread as the other contributions which are to be spoken of in this section. This thread is the unity and perhaps unconscious seriousness of purpose to secure greater exactness in fields where only rough description had hitherto been thought possible.

The work of Kew Observatory, widely known among physicists, offered an attractive field of activity for a man of Mr. Galton's tastes. He was associated with the work of the institution for many years before he became its chairman in 1889, to continue in this post until the observatory was merged in the National Physical Observatory in 1901.

Among the problems which occupied him there were the standardization of sextants, and other angular instruments, and the rating of watches and the rapid verification of clinical thermometers.

The laws of the weather were at that time beginning to attract serious attention. The collection of numerous simultaneous observations demanded the development of self-recording instruments; in this work he also had a share. Particular credit is due to him for the first charting of the weather.

As early as 1861 he pointed out the needs of presenting the meteorological conditions observed over a given region graphically and published an illustrative map. This first map which we may recognize as the progenitor of our daily weather map, was printed from moveable type, especially designed for the purpose. Later many experiments were made with different devices for engraving plates from which the meteorological charts might be printed. In 1863 he published a vol-