Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/99

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THE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, PARIS

by M. Richer on the island of Cayenne; discovery of the celestial luminary which appeared in the zodiac; rules followed in Indian astronomy in the calculation of the movements of the sun and moon; reflections for a Chinese chronology; the island of Taprobane; hypotheses and tables of the satellites of Jupiter. In Volume IX. we have the works of de la Hire. They are mathematical in their nature, though they indicate acquaintance with the whole field of science. Volume X. treats of a wide range of subjects. Nearly four pages are occupied with titles alone. These essays indicate the direction scientific thought was taking and refer to matters of interest in physics, astronomy, anatomy and physiology. This volume was published in 1732 as a volume of extracts and papers from the records of the academy. As early as 1692 the academy had published a volume of its regular proceedings. A second volume appeared the next year. For the general reader Volume X. is undoubtedly the most interesting volume in the series. Many of the papers it contains had been given the public through the Journal des Savans, which was started at about the time the academy was organized. From the volumes in this series the works of Huyghens, Mariotte and Perrault are omitted, as their complete works had been published separately under the auspices of the academy. Volume XI. contains an analysis of new methods of resolving problems of all kinds and degrees to infinity. Though edited by M. Richer, it is the work of M. Delogny. The authenticity of this series of reports, with the history included in Volumes I. and II., is guaranteed by the signature of M. Fontenelle, perpetual secretary of the academy from 1699 to 1741. Fontenelle was born in 1657 and died in 1757.

Before speaking more definitely of the work done by the academy prior to its reorganization at the beginning of the eighteenth century, it should be noticed that in this academy we have the earliest example of cooperation in scientific study and of the endowment of research.

Colbert's plan was to bring men of scientific attainments together, and make it possible for them, at the cost of the king, to devote themselves entirely to work in their special departments. No better plan than that adopted in 1667 could at that time have been conceived. Funds were provided out of the royal treasury for experiment and costly journeys. Sir Isaac Newton was aided by this academy, which not only in this instance, but through its correspondence with other learned bodies, showed its hospitality for learning and its readiness to accept truth no matter from what source it might come. It has often been said that Newton needed a Paris Academy and a Laplace to make his theories popular, not only in France, but in all Europe. His "Fluxions" known as early 1675, were not published till after Descartes, in 1684, had given his "Calculus" to the world. These dis-