Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/102

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the poles and the equator. Yet in spite of the jealousy of mathematicians and astronomers, every subject of scientific importance sooner or later was discussed in the academy.

Efforts were made by the king to bring into his academy the most eminent scientists of all countries. Thus Huyghens came from Holland at the founding of the academy. Jean Dominique Cassini, an Italian astronomer, came from Florence in 1669. Olais Roemer,of Denmark, came in 1674. He was the first to measure the velocity of light by observing the eclipse of the satellites of Jupiter. Nicolas Hortzoeker, of Düsseldorf, an optician, though residing in Paris for a time, preferred his independence under the elector Palatine to service in France under the king. Neither Tschirnhauser, nor the two Bernouillis, nor Sir Isaac Newton would expatriate themselves to become active members of the academy. They were content to be foreign associates and the academy honored itself by making them such.

A visit from the king in 1681 was a memorable occasion, especially for the astronomers, in whose work and instruments he was deeply interested. The visit brought larger and better equipment for the academy. Yet the king did not hesitate, at the suggestion of minister Louvais, who cared less for science and research than Colbert, to employ members of the academy for objects which had little reference to science, de la Hire was given tasks at surveying. Others were commanded to look after the fountains and waterfalls at Versailles. Perrault, Roemer and Blondel were ordered to discover the height to which a bomb could be sent and to trace accurately its path. The tendency of the time was toward the practical. It is not surprising, therefore, although the study of science was not wholly given up, that during the last quarter of the century the academy should lose much of its fame as a center of purely scientific research. The time had come for a change in its management, or for its reorganization. To that we must now give attention.