Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dr. P.H. Vander Weyde (obituary) -- August 9, 2012

Doctor Peter Henri Van Der Weyde wrote the series of articles which gave this blog its name.  His obituary appeared in the 30-March-1895 edition of Scientific American.  


P. H. Vander Weyde, the well known scientist, and a former frequent contributor to the pages of the Scientific American, died at his residence in this city on the morning of March 18, after an illness of a
few days.

Dr. Vander Weyde was born in Nymegen, Holland, in 1813, a country to which his family, originally German, emigrated at the time of the Reformation. He studied at Durpldorf and was graduated from the Royal Academy at Delft. He was early known as a scientific teacher, writer and lecturer, his first appearance in the latter capacity having been made at Bois-le-Duc in 1833, when he delivered a lecture on acoustics before the philosophical society of that place. Subsequently he was appointed to the chair of mathematics and natural philosophy at the Government School of Design. In 1842 he established a journal devoted to mathematics and physics, and three years later was awarded a gold medal by the Society for the Promotion of Scientific Kuowledge for a text book on natural philosophy. At the same period, he was editor of a political journal which vigorously waged war against government abuses.

In 1849 he came to New York, bringing with him a valuable historical collection of philosophical apparatus which he had been forming for some time. He then turned his attention to medicine, and after studying at the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York University Medical College, was graduated from the latter institution in 1857. Directly after his graduation, he was appointed professor of chemistry in the New York Medical College; was also appointed physician to the Northwestern Dispensary, and practiced medicine in several parts of the city until 1859, when he relinquished his profession to occupy the chair of physics, chemistry, and the higher mathematics at the Cooper Institute.

In 1864, the chair of industrial chemistry was expressly created for him at Girard College. Resigning this professorship two years later, he returned to this city, and devoted himself to scientific writing and experimentation. In or about 1869, he constructed, after wood cuts published in a German periodical, a telephone transmitter that had been invented by the German schoolmaster Philip Reis. This apparatus, the first seen in this country, is illustrated and described in the Scientific American for May 29, 1886. The original instrument of Reis had no adjusting screws, so that its operation was uncertain. Having provided these and made certain other improvements, the instrument worked very satisfactorily. Not so with the receiver, with which be first had considerable trouble, but of which he succeeded in remedying the defects by abandoning the principle of Reis and substituting the intermittent magnetization of an iron bar for the intermittent elongation of iron needles. This resulted in the production of a receiver which worked perfectly.
Dr. Vander Weyde was not content to rest with the instruments of these types only, but a year or so later, in 1870, made a form in which there was a horseshoe magnet mounted back of and facing the plate armature. It was simply a powerful electromagnet receiver, something like, but immeasurably superior to, the instruments shown in the Bell patent of six years later.

In 1869, Dr. Vander Weyde accepted the editorship of the Manufacturer and Builder, a scientific journal of this city. During his long connection therewith his pen was very active, and his contributions to the scientific press and especially to this journal were numerous. He was one of the editors of Appleton's New American Cyclopedia and contributed many scientific articles to that work. As an inventor he had a wide reputation, the number of patents taken by him on inventions of his own, mostly pertaining to electricity, being more than two hundred.

Dr. Vander Weyde, who claimed descent from Walther von der Vogelweide, the celebrated minnesinger of thethirteenth century, was also an accomplished musician and well known as a composer, the number of his compositions amounting to more than three hundred.

He was corresponding member of numerous scientific societies in Europe and America.

Notwithstanding his advanced age, he enjoyed vigorous bodily and mental health up to the time of his death, within a week of which event he wrote and completed an article upon modern electricity for a scientific journal of this city.

1 comment:

Mary Ankeel said...

Our heartfelt condolence to the family of Dr. P. H. Vander Weyde for his passing. A memorial page should be made for him on Evertalk.