Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/174

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of generation was also a subject of discussion. There were two parties in the academy, the ovists and the spermatists, and the differences between them were not removed for a century and a half, or till it was discovered that fertilization is through contact. François du Petit, one of the physicians in the academy, devoted himself to the study of the brain and the eye. He was an anatomist from the cradle. It was a common saying that he listened to the lectures of Littré when he was only seven years old, and was able to prepare bodies for dissection at the age of nine. He was a man of vast knowledge and acquired great fame. Antoine Ferrein entered the academy in 1741. He advocated the theory that the circulation of blood is controlled by the heart. Winslow, a pupil of Duverney and unsurpassed as an anatomist save by Albinus of Leiden fifteen years his junior, confined his attention to the outside of the body, to monstrosities and to the dangers arising from certain kinds of dress. Discussions and differences in the academy increased and grew warmer with every addition to scientific knowledge, for the ability to harmonize the discoveries which were made nearly every year with what was already known seemed to be entirely lacking. Men had not yet learned how to compare one science with another. The study of comparative anatomy was in its infancy. Of paleontology almost nothing was known. This science did not receive attention in France till after 1725 when A. de Jussieu read his paper in the academy on the imprints of fauna and flora on certain rocks. These imprints he refused to consider and treat as whims of nature. De Maillet did not dare at this time to have his book on geology printed in France. It was not till Buffon's "Essay on the Epochs of Nature" appeared that men were willing to study nature from what was then called the modern point of view. Prior to 1740 the teachings of the church as to the origin of the earth were everywhere accepted. The entrance of philosophy into the academy added interest to its discussions. There were sharp differences of opinion as to what were living and what were dead forces. Leibniz had affirmed, Voltaire had denied, that the measure of force is as its mass multiplied by the square of its velocity. In this discussion Voltaire and Maupertuis took part. Every change in motion, said the latter, is brought about by the employment of the least possible amount of active force. The theory was attacked in the Berlin Academy by Samuel Koenig, with whom Maupertuis quarreled, and, although he was sustained in his contentions by the academy, it is now generally admitted that Koenig was justified in his criticisms. From the results of this quarrel Maupertuis never recovered.

As the discussions in the academy increased in intensity, and apparently in importance, public interest in its opinions increased also. In science its decisions were received as authoritative. Prior to the revolution not much attention was given to scientific studies in the schools.