Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/97

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THE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, PARIS

and de la Voge. Pensions or salaries were provided for the members of the academy, who were expected to devote their whole time to study and experiment. There was a special fund in addition for experiment. That these men of science might work to the best advantage it was agreed that physicists should meet on Saturdays, mathematicians and astronomers on Wednesdays. General meetings were held every month at which reports were read by Secretary du Hamel of all that had been done. These were in Latin, a language in which the secretary had great proficiency. The meetings were held at first in the Royal Library, but were soon removed to the Louvre, where, save during the interval caused by the revolution, they continued to be held till 1806, when the Institute found a permanent home in the Mazarin Palace. As was said in a previous article, the Paris Academy of Sciences has been regarded in many ways as the most important scientific institution on the continent, if not in all Europe. It has been the model after which many other scientific academies have been formed. Its 68 members are now divided into eleven sections. Five of these sections, viz., those of geometry, mechanics, astronomy, geography and navigation, belong to the mathematical department of the academy; six of them, those of chemistry, mineralogy, botany, rural economy, anatomy and zoology, medicine and surgery, to the department of physics. Care has been taken from the first to fill each section of the academy with the best available men, and, although some first-class men have not found their way into its ranks, yet comparatively few of them have been left without its honors.

It is exceedingly interesting as well as instructive to look over the quartos which contain a description of the work of the academy prior to 1700. Nominally eleven in number, yet as volume three is in three parts and volume seven in two, there are fourteen volumes to be examined. They furnish a clear idea of the state of scientific knowledge at the time when the studies reported were made, and enable one to trace the progress of science in its various departments through more than a generation. In Volumes I. and II. we have a history of the academy with the names of its members prior to 1734 and a list of their publications. Nothing is more attractive to a real student in all these volumes than this list of names and publications. Volume III. contains descriptions of the animals which the academy secured for dissection. Most of them are common animals. The cuts which represent them are fine specimens of the art of the time. A picture of the animal as it appears in life is first given, then follows a cut of the skeleton and such other parts of the body as the dissector cared to exhibit. In the text a description is given of the animal as it ordinarily appears, with all that can be learned about it from classical and other writers. This is followed by a detailed description of its con-