SCIENTIFIC- LIBRARY- OF
Additional copies of this beautiful and
mspmng work combining both Science and
THOS. P. NICHOLS & SON CO
Price, $2.50. LYNN ' MASS '
T. J. J. S-EJE,
A. M., LT. M., Sc. M. (Missou.); A. M., PH. D. (BEROL.);
FAMOUS ASTRONOMER, NATURAL PHILOSOPHER, AND FOUNDER OF THE
NEW SCIENCES OF COSMOGONY AND GEOGONY.
,3J*attmt to ti\t H*wt*r <rf % Junto"
BY W. L. WEBB,
Amateur Astronomer, Author of "The Story of the Stars," and Inventor of the "Star Finder;
Author of a "History of Missouri;" "History of Greater Kansas City;"
"Biography of Champ Clark;" etc.
THOS. P. NICHOLS & SON CO.,
LYNN, MASS., U. S. A.
WM. WESLEY & SON, LONDON, ENGLAND.
W. L. WEBB.
DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
SIR WILLIAM MUGGINS.
THE HERSCHEL OF THE SPECTROSCOPE,"
FOUNDER OF THE NEW SCIENCE OF ASTROPHYSICS,
EX-PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY,
STEADFAST FRIEND OF PROFESSOR SEE,
ONE OF THE EARLIEST TO RECOGNIZE HIS HIGH PROMISE
FOR THE DISCOVERY OF NEW TRUTH.
INTRODUCTION . . ... . . . . . . vii
SKETCH OF PROFESSOR SEE'S BIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . xi
ANCESTRY AND CHILDHOOD. 1866-1872 1
BOYHOOD AND EDUCATION PREPARATORY TO COLLEGE. 1872-1884 . 14
FIVE YEARS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI. 1884-1889 , . 28
THREE AND A HALF YEARS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BERLIN. 1889-1892 44
FOUR YEARS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO. 1893-1896 . . 53
Two YEARS AT THE LOWELL OBSERVATORY. 1896-1898 ... 62
THREE AND A HALF YEARS AT THE NAVAL OBSERVATORY, WASHINGTON.
AT THE NAVAL ACADEMY AND MARE ISLAND, CALIFORNIA. 1902-1913 78
POPULAR ACCOUNT OF THE RESEARCHES ON THE INTERNAL CONSTITUTION
OF THE SUN AND THE PLANETS. 1904-1906 .... 89
OUTLINE OF THE NEW THEORY OF EARTHQUAKES. 1906-1908 . . 97
How THE MOUNTAINS WERE MADE IN THE DEPTHS OF THE SEA. 1908 120
FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS ON THE ORIGIN OF THE HIMALAYA MOUN-
TAINS AND THE PLATEAU OF TIBET. 1913 .... 137
THE EVOLUTION OF THE STARRY HEAVENS. 1911 . . . 160
THE DETERMINATION OF THE DEPTH OF THE MILKY WAY. 1912 . 197
THE HERSCHEL-SEE RESEARCHES ON THE ORIGIN OF CLUSTERS AND ON
THE BREAKING UP OF THE MILKY WAY, UNDER THE CLUSTERING
POWER OF UNIVERSAL GRAVITATION 214
CONCLUSIONS DRAWN FROM THE NEW SCIENCE OF COSMOGONY. 1912 225
THE REVOLUTIONARY CHARACTER OF THE NEW THEORIES, AND THEIR
TRIUMPHANT VERIFICATION BY EMINENT ASTRONOMERS . . 242
' THIS MOST INDEFATIGABLE AND INTREPID OF EXPLORERS,' 'THE
AMERICAN HERSCHEL,' AND 'THE NEWTON OF COSMOGONY.' . 257
NOTES ON SOME EARLY PROPHECIES AND ON THE PUBLIC BANQUET
TENDERED DR. SEE BY THE SCIENCE ASSOCIATION OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, JANUARY 20, 1898 .... 275
INDEX OF NAMES. 281
most eminent philosophers occasionally establish new
foundations for the individual physical sciences. But, so
far as we are aware, history presents no previous record of
one man revolutionizing and laying new foundations for two great
physical Sciences. And yet this unprecedented achievement has
been accomplished by Professor See, an American just in the prime
The two New Sciences which he has established are:
COSMOGONY, dealing with the Creation of the Heavens;
GEOGONY, which treats of the Creation of the Earth.
The New Sciences are as distinct and clearly defined as the
problems of the development of the Heavens and of the Earth,
respectively; and taken together they unfold the majestic pano-
rama of the Creation of the entire Universe. There is thus
opened to the mind a vision almost divine!
The marvelous story of how these unparalleled discoveries
were made by a young man of penetrating intuition and steady
purpose, working independently, and thus absolutely free of en-
tangling alliances, without other than his own moderate means,
in an age characterized by increasing restriction of individual
freedom incident to growing centralization and vast expenditure,
ostensibly for scientific investigation, cannot fail to be of interest
to a great and increasing circle of readers in both hemispheres.
It is often lamented that the simple life and individual inde-
pendence enjoyed by the pioneer investigator is passing away with
the complexity arising from the centralizing consolidations of
modern industrialism, by which the individual is reduced to a
mere cog in the wheel of a vast machine.
It is therefore very reassuring to have a concrete proof, in
Professor See's discoveries, that the time will never come when IN-
DIVIDUAL INDEPENDENCE AND FREE INITIATIVE, which character-
ized the philosophic habits of Aristotle and Plato, will not bear fruit
in the modern, as in the ancient, world. Indeed the failure of many
contemporary Scientific Institutions is due to disregard of the
mature and wholesome truths taught and practiced by the wisest
of the Athenian Sages.
We are thus impressed with the wholesome doctrine that
great discoveries cannot be made by the methods of the factory,
the counting-house and the department-store, which have well-
nigh destroyed the creative efficiency of some of our most liberally
endowed and best supported scientific institutions.
Professor See is universally recognized as the most intrepid
and indefatigable of the explorers of Nature; and since the death
of Poincare and Sir George Darwin, in 1912, occupies easily the
first place among living natural philosophers. These eminent men
were in fact mathematicians rather than investigators of the
physical universe; and thus were not so careful in their premises
as is usual with discoverers of the first order.
In vain does the mathematician strive after the laws for
the unfolding of the mysteries of the universe, so long as the
premises underlying his reasoning are insecure. It is one of
Professor See's greatest services to Science to have emphasized
impressively this great weakness in much of our contemporary
thought; and the lesson thus taught can not be read too often
by those who are interested in the progress of Truth.
I first came into close relations with Professor See a quarter
of a century ago, while serving with Hon. Champ Clark on the
Legislative Committee for the Investigation of the University of
Missouri. The student then foremost in the University has now
become foremost among men of Science; and naturally I have
followed his triumphant career with pride and unabated enthusi-
While preparing a biography of Hon. Champ Clark, Speaker
of the National House of Representatives, in 1911, I decided to
undertake the more ambitious work of popularizing the discover-
ies of Professor See. Several learned colleagues of this eminent
savant, in Missouri and elsewhere, have helped to lighten the
burden thus assumed. It was further decreased by Professor
See's kindness in granting permission to reprint several articles
and addresses of great interest, including the paper on the Origin
of the Himalaya Mountains presented to the American Philosoph-
ical Society in April, 1913. Grateful acknowledgments are
due for priviliges of reprinting extended by this illustrious
I am especially indebted to Professor L. M. Defoe and Pro-
fessor Harris Hancock, close friends of Professor See at the Uni-
versity of Missouri and the University of Berlin, respectively; and
to the Historical Society of Montgomery County, Missouri, for
the loan of a copy of the " Records of the See Family of Virginia,"
which furnishes authentic genealogical data dating back to 1734,
when the early members of this Family came to America from
W. L. WEBB.
June 6, 1913.
SKETCH OF PROFESSOR SEE'S BIOGRAPHY.
(From Who's Who in America, 1912.)
EE, THOMAS JEFFERSON JACKSON, astronomer,
mathematician; born near Montgomery City, Mo., Feb. 19,
1866; son of Noah and Mary Ann (Sailor) See; A. B., L.B.,
S.B., University of Missouri, 1889; A.M., Ph.D., University of
Berlin, 1892; married Frances Graves of Montgomery City, June
18, 1907. In charge Observatory of University of Missouri,
1887-9; volunteer observer Royal Observatory, Berlin, 1891;
traveled in Italy, Egypt, Greece, Germany and England, 1890-2;
organized and had charge of Department of Astronomy, and aided
in organization of Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago,
1893-6; astronomer Lowell Observatory in charge Survey of
Southern heavens, 1896-8; with 24-inch Clark refractor at Flag-
staff, Arizona, and City of Mexico, examined about 200,000 fixed
stars, in zone between 15 and 65 degrees south declination, which
led to discovery and measurement of about 600 new double stars
and remeasurement of some 1,400 double stars previously recog-
nized by Sir John Herschel and other observers. Professor of
Mathematics, U.S. Navy, since 1899; in charge 26-inch equatorial
telescope, U.S. Naval Observatory, 1899-1902; Professor of Math-
ematics, U.S. Naval Academy, 1902-3; Naval Observatory, Mare
Island, California, since 1903; lecturer on Sidereal Astronomy,
Lowell Institute, Boston, 1899. During 1901-2 investigated
diameters of planets and satellites by daylight, deducing their
constants of irradiation and absolute densities. Published re-
searches on Laplace's Invariable Plane, and on the internal densi-
ties, pressures, temperatures, rigidities, and moments of inertia
of the principal bodies of the planetary system, 1903-6. Observed
earthquake at San Francisco, April 18, 1906, and proved that
world-shaking earthquakes and mountain formation depend on
leakage of oceans and expulsion of lava, producing great wall along
Xii SKETCH OF PROFESSORS SEE'S BIOGRAPHY.
margin of sea, as in typical case of the Andes. During 1908-9
established laws of the Formation of the Solar System, showing
that the planets and satellites were not detached from the bodies
which now govern their motions, as supposed by Laplace, but have
all been captured, and have since had their orbits reduced in size
and rounded up into almost perfect circles under the secular action
of a resisting medium. The moon is thus shown to be a planet
captured by the earth, and not a detached portion of the terres-
trial globe, as held by Sir George Darwin and earlier investigators.
Carried out also important researches on the eclipses of the past
3,000 years, and the moon's secular acceleration, the rotation of
the earth and other planets, the formation of lunar craters, origin
of comets, cause of variable and temporary stars, thus founding a
new science of cosmogony, since adopted by Poincare and other
eminent authorities. During 1911 investigated the depth of the
Milky Way, improving and extending the forgotten methods of
Sir William Herschel, and showed that this depth is several million
light-years, and thus about a thousand times greater than astron-
omers have recently believed. This confirmation of the neglect-
ed theories of Sir Wm. Herschel led to a movement for the republi-
cation of his collected works by the Royal Astronomical and Royal
Society of London. Has computed about sixty orbits of double
stars. Fellow or member of many scientific societies in United
States and abroad. Author: Die Entwickelung der Doppel-Stern
Systeme, Berlin, 1893; Researches on the Evolution of the Stellar
Systems, Vol. I, Lynn, 1896; Vol. II, The Capture Theory of
Cosmical Evolution, 1910; Researches on the Physical Constitu-
tion and Rigidities of the Heavenly Bodies, Kiel, 1904-6; Re-
searches on the Physics of the Earth, and especially on the Cause
of Earthquakes and Mountain Formation, Proc. Am. Phil. Soc.,
Philadelphia, 1906-8; Determination of Depth of the Milky Way,
Proc. Am. Phil. Soc., 1912. Also double star catalogues and about
250 contributions to technical journals and magazines. Address:
Mare Island, California.
ANCESTRY AND CHILDHOOD.
SPECULATED ON THE SUN, MOON AND STARS WHEN ONLY TWO
nature of genius always has been deeply mysterious, and
heretofore philosophers have labored in vain to account for
its appearance. It seems to be an accentuation of the usual en-
dowments of the individual, combined with a power of concentra-
tion which produces the maximum efficiency, and doubtless is an
extraordinary gift of Nature designed for the protection and
improvement of the race. At least this is the purpose which
genius serves in the economy of the world.
But as genius is the culmination of the more normal creative
effort, and appears only under favorable conditions, we may re-
mark that to understand the forces that produce a great man one
has to look into the environment of his individual life, and also
examine the ancestry of his family. Taken together these two
influences, in some mysterious way, determine the mental and
bodily powers and tendencies, always a very important factor in
those labors which make for high achievement. It takes genera-
tions of good stock to produce the best type of man, just as it
does to produce the best types in the rest of the animal kingdom.
For although it is a recognized maxim of the most eminent
historians, as Thucydides and Tacitus, Gibbon and Grote, Ranke
and Niebuhr, Mommsen and Curtius, that the importance of an-
cestry often is overrated, yet the Southern saying that "blood
will tell" holds true in our History; and nowhere is this steadying
influence more effective than in the persistence required for the
higher intellectual life. To develop the noblest products of the
2 . BRIEF BIOGRAPHY AND POPULAR ACCOUNT OF THE
human mind, such as discoveries which lay the foundations of
new sciences, the forces must all be strong and well balanced and
the mental intuition clear and penetrating. When these con-
ditions are favorable Nature occasionally supplements her ordinary
creative efforts by examples of the extraordinary type called genius.
Needless to say the ancestry of Professor See is of the sturdiest
kind, and marked by great strength of character for many genera-
tions, on both sides of the family. His talents have been very
largrly inherited, but they are also original gifts of Nature, which
have been developed by industry and favorable environment.
The earliest American ancestor by this name was Adam See,
a Protestant and an adherent of a sect of Baptists, who fled from
Prussian Silesia, with the colony of Schwenkf elders in 1734*,
and settled first in Bucks Co., Penn. Adam See's wife was named
Barbara, and he had an elder brother, Michael Frederick See,
whose wife's name was Catherine. They were all quite young
at the time of the immigration from Germany, to escape from
religious persecutions! ; and the Adam See family continued to
use German Bibles to the third generation.
* This was the same year in which the Moravian Evangelists first came to
Pennsylvania, but their first temporary settlement and mission to the Indians was
at Savannah, Ga., 1735. In 1740 these Moravians moved to Pennsylvania, and
with Count Zinzendorf and others from Herrnhut, Saxony, founded Bethlehem,
tThe persecution under which the Schwenkfelders fled from Prussian Silesia
is described in the Encyclopedia Britannica, ninth edition, Article Schwenkf eld, as
follows: "In Silesia they formed a distinct sect, which has lasted until our own
times. In the 17th Century they were associated with the followers of Jacob
Bohme, and were undisturbed until 1708, when an inquiry was made as to their
doctrines. In 1720 a Commission of Jesuits was despatched to Silesia to convert
them by force. Most of them fled from Silesia to Saxony, and thence to Holland,
England and North America. Frederick the Great of Prussia, when he seized
Silesia, extended his protection to those who remained in that province. Those
who had fled to Philadelphia in Pennsylvania formed a small community under
the name of Schwenkfeldians; and Zinzendorf and Spangenberg, when they
visited the United States, endeavoured, but with little success, to convert them
to their views. This Community still exists in Pennsylvania, and according to
information obtained from their ministers by Robert Barclay they consisted
in 1875 of two congregations of 500 members, with three meeting houses and six
THE RETURN OF THE GREENBRIER CAPTIVES, AFTER THE CLOSE OF THE
FRENCH AND INDIAN WARS, 1765.
(From an old History).
HON. CHARLES MICHAEL SEE.
One of the most widely known and highly respected citizens of Central Illinois. Mr. See
has a notable record in the Union Army, 1861-65; and a remarkable service of 40 years as Station
Agent of the Illinois Central Railroad, at Alma. He took up the study of the Family History,
about 1880. at the suggestion of Judge Silas Bryan, who had long known the Sees in Virginia.
UNPARALLELED DISCOVERIES OF T. J. J. SEE 3
In 1745 they moved from Pennsylvania to the Valley of
Virginia, and settled near the present town of Moorefield, in Hardy
County. Here Adam See became a prominent planter, and lived
till about 1790. About 1760, his elder brother and family moved
on to Greenbrier settlement, where he was killed in the Indian
massacre of July 17, 1763, and the family, consisting of wife and
four children, carried captive to Old Town (Chillicothe), Ohio.
After the treaty of peace, at the close of the French and Indian
Wars of 1765, they were all restored to their people, except John
See, a child of seven, who had been adopted in an Indian family,
and, as the captives were leaving, ran back and stayed with
the Indians, till ransomed by his Uncle Adam See some years
John See then grew up with his Uncle Adam's son George
See, and both fought in the Revolution, John being so badly
wounded at Brandywine that he was pensioned by the government
in old age. He lived to be ninety, dying near Peoria, 111., in 1848.
When he was very old he gave a detailed account of the early
history of the family to his grandson, the Rev. Michael See, of
Wyman, Iowa, who was appointed a member of the Sanitary
Commission by President Lincoln during the Civil War. The
Rev. Michael See gave this account to Hon. Charles Michael
See of Alma, 111., who took up the study of the family history about
1880, at the suggestion of Judge Silas Bryan, father of Hon.
Wm. J. Bryan, and later gave the data thus gathered to Hon.
Noah See, father of Professor See; so that all the records are
authentic and preserved in enough detail to make an interesting
Adam See seems to have had a family of one or more daugh-
ters, and the son George mentioned above. Before the Revolu-
tion, probably about 1767, George See had married Jemima Har-
ness, by whom he had a family of nine children: Adam, Michael,
George, Charles, and John; and the daughters: Barbara, Hannah,
Elizabeth, and Dorothy. The history of the family of this gen-
eration is fully kept, but most of it need not be given here.
4 BRIEF BIOGRAPHY AND POPULAR ACCOUNT OF THE
It suffices to say that the second Adam See was a student at
Dickinson College, and afterwards became an eminent lawyer, a
senator at Richmond during the War of 1812, and a member of
the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1829.
His brother Michael See married Catherine Baker, and raised
a family of nine children, the names of the six sons being: Adam,
Anthony, Jacob, John, Solomon, and Noah; and of the daughters:
Mary, Elizabeth, Barbara. This Noah See, the youngest child,
and the most talented, was the father of Professor See, the sub-
ject of this Biography. His grandfather, George See, and son
Charles had been killed by lightning while stacking hay, about
1794; and the two brothers, Adam and Michael, with their fami-
lies, then moved to Randolph County, Va., about 1795, where
Noah See was born September 19, 1815. Michael See served in
the War of 1812, while his brother Adam was a Senator at Rich-
In 1837 Noah See visited the West, traveling on horseback
through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and finally settled in Mont-
gomery County, Mo., whither his father, mother, and three
brothers and two sisters soon followed, so that the See family has
been prominent in that part of Missouri for three quarters of a
century. Michael See lived as a highly respected citizen of Mont-
gomery County till his death in 1857.
Noah See was educated in the High School at Beverly, Vir-
ginia, and trained as a cabinet-maker. He also became an archi-
tect and civil engineer, having built a bridge over the Cheat
River in Virginia before he was twenty-two. In these early days
he also studied land surveying, which he afterwards followed as
a life-long profession, having been twice elected county surveyor
of Montgomery County, and generally considered one of the finest
surveyors in Missouri. The profession of architect he also kept
up, having built a great many houses still standing in Montgomery
County; while his talents as an engineer caused him to be chosen
as bridge commissioner of the county for nearly thirty years.
His conduct of these several offices was always marked by great
HON. NOAH SEE.
Professor See's Father, as he appeared when about sixty years of
age. He was born in Randolph County, Virginia, Sept. 19, 1815, and died
in Montgomery County, Missouri, Feb. 9, 1890. Owing to his experience
as a Civil Engineer, Surveyor, and Architect, he served as Bridge Com-
missioner of the County for over 3(Tyears.
MRS. MARY A. SEE.
Mother of Professor See, from a photograph taken in 1899, when she was
67 years of age. Mrs. See was born in Montgomery County, Missouri, Jan. 14,
1832, and has always resided in the County.
UNPARALLELED DISCOVERIES OF T. J. J. SEE 5
fidelity to the interests of the community. By virtue of natural
abilities and strictly legitimate industry he became wealthy and
influential, and for fifty-two years was one of the most highly
respected citizens in the county.
On October 18, 1853, Noah See married Miss Mary A. Sailor,
daughter of James and Sabina (Cobb) Sailor. The Sailors were
a highly respected family which came from near Mt. Sterling,
Montgomery County, Kentucky*, but were originally from Vir-
ginia. The earliest American ancestor by this name, John Sailor,
born about 1750, was an Englishman, who settled in Virginia
about 1772, and afterwards fought in the Revolution. He moved
to Montgomery County, Ky., about 1790, and resided near Jack-
son's Mill, on the Licking River, being by profession a skilled
machinist. He had a family of six children five sons: John,
Emanuel, Mathias, Jacob, and William, and the daughter Sarah,
who married Samuel Cobb, a brother of Phillip Cobb. His second
son, Emanuel Sailor, with his wife and family of three sons, James,
John and Thomas, settled in Montgomery County, Mo., in 1824,
and their descendants have always been highly respected citizens
of that part of Missouri. Emanuel Sailor's wife, at the time of
their marriage, was a widow, her first husband having been Dr.
James Geary, of Ohio, and her maiden name Ann Hollett, of New
Mrs. Noah See, mother of the famous astronomer, still lives
at the old home near Montgomery City, and is one of the most
remarkable women in the United States. The family consisted
of nine children, of whom eight are still living, one daughter
having died in childhood. Mrs. See has long been noted for her
devotion to the family, and for her energy and force of character.
She has always been greatly beloved by the whole community,
as such model mothers usually are. The names of the children
in order of age are: Anna Maria, Millard Filmore, Missouri
Virginia, Robert E. Lee, Lucy Elizabeth (died at age of two and
* The State of Missouri was settled by Virginians and Kentuckians, and Pro-
fessor See therefore is a typical Missourian in every sense.
6 BRIEF BIOGRAPHY AND POPULAR ACCOUNT OF THE
half years), Thomas Jefferson Jackson*, George Washington,
Sylvester Clay, Edward Everett.
From this list it will be seen that the astronomer is the sixth
child and third son in a family of nine, all of whom are talented.
All the boys were raised as farmers, and most of them have ad-
hered to the family tradition. Three of Professor See's brothers,
namely, M. F. See, Geo. W. See, and E. E. See have decided
scientific tastes, however, and could have become eminent pro-