Michell, John


Michell, John

▪ British geologist and astronomer
born 1724, Nottinghamshire, England
died April 21, 1793, Thornhill, Yorkshire

      British geologist and astronomer who is considered one of the fathers of seismology, the science of earthquakes (earthquake).

      In 1760, the year in which he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of London, Michell finished writing "Conjectures Concerning the Cause, and Observations upon the Phænomena of Earthquakes (earthquake)," in which he presented the conclusions from his study of the disastrous Lisbon earthquake (earthquake) of 1755. He showed that the focus of that earthquake was underneath the Atlantic Ocean, and he proposed erroneously that the cause of earthquakes was high-pressure steam, created when water comes into contact with subterranean fires. His contributions to astronomy included the first realistic estimate of the distance between the Earth and a star and the suggestion, later verified by the English astronomer John Herschel (Herschel, Sir John, 1st Baronet), that binary stars (binary star) are physically close to and in orbit around each other.

      Michell became Woodwardian Professor of Geology at the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, University of) in 1762 and rector of Thornhill in 1767. In 1750 he had published a major work on artificial magnets. He may have conceived the principle of the torsion balance independently of the French physicist Charles-Augustin de Coulomb (Coulomb, Charles-Augustin de). He hoped to use this instrument to determine the mean density of the Earth. Although he died before finishing his work, it was carried on by the English physicist Henry Cavendish (Cavendish, Henry) in his determination of G, the gravitational constant (a measure of the strength of gravitation).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Michell , John — (1724–1793) English geologist and astronomer Michell studied at Cambridge University and became a fellow. In 1762 he was appointed Woodward Professor of Geology but left academic life to take up a post as rector at Thornhill, Yorkshire, in 1764.… …   Scientists

  • MICHELL, John Henry (1863-1940) — mathematician son of John and Grace Michell, was born at Maldon, Victoria, on 26 October 1863. Educated at first at Maldon, he went to Wesley College, Melbourne, in 1877, where he won the Draper and Walter Powell scholarships. In 1881 he began… …   Dictionary of Australian Biography

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  • John Henry Michell — (26 October 1863 – 3 February 1940) was an Australian mathematician, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Melbourne.Early lifeMichell was the son of John Michell (pronounced Mitchell), a miner, and his wife Grace, née Rowse and was born… …   Wikipedia

  • John Michell (writer) — For other people named John Michell, see John Michell (disambiguation). John Michell In repose …   Wikipedia

  • John Michell — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Michell. John Michell (ou Mitchell, 1724 – 29 avril 1793) est un physicien, astronome et géologue britannique. Certains de ses travaux n ont été redécouverts par les astronomes que dans les années 1970 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • John Michell — (December 25, 1724 – April 29, 1793) was an English natural philosopher and geologist, whose work spanned a wide range of subjects, from astronomy to geology, optics, and gravitation. He was both a theorist and an experimenter.Michell was… …   Wikipedia

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  • John Michell (disambiguation) — John Michell (1724–1793) was an English scientist.John Michell may also refer to:*John Henry Michell (1863–1940), Australian mathematician *John Michell (writer) (b. 1933), English contemporary writer on esotericismee also*John Michels (born… …   Wikipedia

  • John Michell — (25 de diciembre de 1724 29 de abril de 1793) fue un filósofo inglés naturales y geólogo, cuya labor abarcó una amplia gama de temas, desde la astronomía a la geología, la óptica y la gravitación. Era a la vez un teórico y un experimentador.… …   Wikipedia Español


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