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YEAR-BOOK OF FACTS IN SCIENCE AND ART.
MOST IMPORTANT DISCOVERIES AND IMPROVEMENTS IN
TOGETHER WITH A LIST OF RECENT SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS; A CLASSIFIED
OF IMPORTANT PAPERS IN SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS, REPORTS, ETO.
DAVID A. WELLS,
OF THE LAWRENCE SCIENTIFIC SCHOOL, CAMBRIDGE,
GEORGE BLISS, JR.
59 WASHINGTON STREET.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1850,
By GOULD, KENDALL, AND LINCOLN,
The idea of preparing the present work was first suggested by the examination of similar works, which have been published in Europe for several years past. We believed that such a work could not fail to be useful to many persons, by enabling them to see at a glance what has been accomplished during the past year, and thus showing them in what direction they can most profitably apply their labors. The language of Bacon concerning one branch of science applies with equal force to all its branches :—"Nothing is of greater efficacy in procuring a stock of new and useful inventions, than to have the experiments of numerous mechanic arts known to a single person or to a few, who might mutually improve each other by conversation; so that by this translation of experiments, arts might mutually warm and light up each other, as it were, by an intermingling of rays.”
In the preparation of the Annual, nothing has been inserted except upon good authority. While many of the articles have not been previously in print, many others have been furnished directly to us by their authors, but have also been published elsewhere. In the exercise of a proper discretion, we have rejected some articles which it would perhaps have been well to retain ; but the limits assigned to the work compelled us to omit much that we at first intended to include. We have, however, inserted nearly all that is at once new and important which is to be found in the standard scientific publications of America, Great Britain, France, and Germany.
Although great care has been bestowed upon every portion of the
work, it would be presumptuous for us to hope that we have been entirely successful in our earnest endeavors to render the Annual perfectly accurate, and we must plead, in excuse for any errors which may be detected, the peculiar difficulties necessarily attending the preparation of the first volume of a work of this nature.
We must not neglect this opportunity of acknowledging the aid we have received from many distinguished gentlemen, but especially from Professors Agassiz, Horsford, and Wyman, and Dr. A. A. Gould, whose counsel and assistance have greatly aided us in our labors. To Messrs. Folsom and Fairbanks, of the Boston Athenæum, and Messrs. Harris and Abbott, of the library of Harvard College, we are indebted for
facilities. Should this our first volume receive the approbation of the public the work will be continued annually; and while we hope hereafter to be free from some embarrassments which have prevented us from making it as complete as we could desire, the experience already gained and the aid promised for the future will, we believe, enable us to render the succeeding volumes more satisfactory both to the public and ourselves.
We shall be happy to receive original communications relating to new inventions or discoveries, for insertion in the next volume.
CAMBRIDGE, March 1, 1850.
NOTE TO THE SECOND EDITION. The Editors have improved the opportunity afforded by the rapid sale of the first edition and the consequent demand for a new one, to correct a few slight errors, which had previously escaped notice. The list of scientific publications and the index to articles in scientific journals have been considerably enlarged. We hope, hereafter, to render this important feature of the work still more valuable.
APRIL 10, 1850.
(SEE THE FRONTISPIECE.)
PROFESSOR AGASSız is a native of Switzerland, and was born in the Canton of Friburg, in the town of Mottier, on the 28th of May, 1807. His ancestors were of French origin, and were among those Protestants whom the revocation of the Edict of Nantes obliged to leave France.
The father of Agassiz was a Protestant minister, and it was expected that his son, following the example of his ancestors, would devote himself to the service of the Church. But Natural History, which from an early age strongly arrested his attention, had, on the completion of his studies at school, gained so great an ascendency, that he chose the profession of medicine, as offering the best opportunities for prosecuting his favorite pursuits. He commenced the study of his profession at the Academy of Zurich, whence he went to the University of Heidelberg, where he devoted himself especially to the study of anatomy, under the direction of the celebrated Professor Tiedemann. At the University he was noted, not only for assiduity in study, but for the rare talent of managing with equal dexterity the rapier and the scalpel. From Heidelberg he went to the University of Munich, where he remained four years. Before this Agassiz had commenced lecturing to his fellow-students, and his already extensive knowledge of Natural History soon attracted the notice of scientific men and his instructors. So great was his reputation, that he was employed by Martius to prepare the ichthyological department of the Natural History of Brazil, a work which gained him great credit.
At this period, his parents, disliking his exclusive devotion to science, withheld his allowance; but his enthusiasm procured him advances from Cotta, a bookseller. Having, however, gained the degrees of Doctor of Medicine and Philosophy, he went to Vienna, where he applied himself to the study of existing and fossil fishes. A friend having lent him some money, ho visited Paris, and here gained the friendship of Cuvier and Hum. boldt, with the former of whom he remained until his death, in 1832.
Having returned to Switzerland, he was appointed Professor of Natural History in the University of Neufchatel, a place which he filled until his departure for the United States. In 1833 he commenced the publication of his great work, Poissons Fossiles, in five volumes, with an atlas of about four hundred folio plates, and comprising descrip tions and figures of nearly a thousand species of fossil fishes. This work gained for him the respect of the scientific world, and at the age of thirty-four Agassiz was a member of every scientific academy of Europe. The degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred up> him by the Universities of Edinburgh and Dublin, and he was also admitted to the frame dom of those cities. The Order of Knight of the Red Eagle of Prussia was conferr upon him by the king of Prussia.