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THE MOST IMPORTANT DISCOVERIES AND IMPROVEMENTS
OF THE PAST YEAR;
IN MECHANICS AND THE USEFUL ARTS ; NATURAL PHILOSOPHY ;
AND MINERALOGY; METEOROLOGY AND ASTRONOMY.
BY JOHN TIMBS, F.S.A.
“CURIOSITIES OF LONDON," ETC.
" Science is not on the decline; and its cultivators have not been
The “Leviathan" during the Launching.-(See page 12.)
JOHN SCOTT RUSSELL, C.E., F.R.S., &c., BUILDER OF
THE “LEVIATHAN” STEAM-SHIP.
(With a Portrait.) The great event in the mechanical science of the past year has been the rapid completion of the Leviathan steam-ship, by Mr. John Scott Russell, whose portrait, therefore, very appropriately faces the title-page of the presen tvolume of scientific records of 1857.
The antecedents of Mr. Scott Russell show that in very early life he displayed that genius and love of enterprise which prepared the possessor for great and original undertakings. He was born in the Vale of Clyde, in 1808, and is the eldest son of the Rev. David Russell, of the family of Russell of Braidwood. He received a University education, and graduated with honour, at the age of sixteen. He evinced a very early predilection for practical mechanics, to encourage which his father first permitted him to employ himself in the workshop of an engineer; and afterwards assisted him to prosecute his studies in mechanics, physics, and the higher mathematics. In these he had made such advances, that when Sir John Leslie, the Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, died at the commencement of the winter of 1832, the young engineer, Scott Russell, was elected to supply, temporarily, the vacancy, and delivered a complete course of lectures on Natural Philosophy to the students, who attended in unusual numbers the prelections of one much younger than themselves. From this time his course as a practical engineer became decided. In a few years he succeeded Mr. Caird, of Greenock, as the manager of one of the largest engineering establishments in Scotland, and there he continued for some years. Well do we remember Mr. Scott Russell's able communications to the Scottish Society of Arts, of which several of our Yeur-Books of Facts bear record ; and to us their salient points were the presage of a life of activity and skilful enterprise to be developed in the metropolis of England, whither Mr. Scott Russell removed in the year 1844.
Meanwhile, the practical man had not neglected his science, but had well applied its doctrines to the mechanical arts. He became a ship-builder, and was then led to investigate the laws by which water opposes resistance to the motion of floating bodies; he subsequently established the phenomenon in hydrodynamics known as “tbe wave of translation," and invented a new form for ships, which possesses the quality of the least resistance, and on which he founded his "wave system” of construction, introduced into practice about 1835. Steamvessels built on this system have risen from the former usual rate of ten miles an hour to the high velocitie twelve, sixteen, and seventeen miles an hour. A memoir on these discoveries was read by Mr. Scott Russell before the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1837, and obtained for him the large Gold Medal ; when he was also elected a Fellow of the Society, and immediately placed upon the Council. Ten years later he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Lon. don, and Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He has been also for many years an active member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science; and in 1847, in conjunction with Sir John Robison, Mr. Scott Russell conducted an important series of experiments on Waves, which are recorded in the Society's Reports.
Mr. Scott Russell has been long a very efficient member of the Society of Arts : he was for some time its secretary, and in 1845 was one of a committee appointed by the Society to organize a National Exhibition of Works of Industrial Art; for this purpose Mr. Scott Russell subscribed money, and gave his untiring efforts, but without success. Of these preliminary proceedings he has published a Narrative. Meanwhile, the Prince Albert, as President of the Society of Arts, was cogpizant of these proceedings; Mr. Scott Russell and his coadjutors, Mr. Francis Fuller and Mr. Henry Cole, persevered in their good work; but the Government would in no way assist them; and it was not until 1849, when the plan had been so far matured as almost to ensure success, that the Prince President