Mayer, Tobias

, one of the greatest astronomers and mechanics of the last century, was born at Maspach in the duchy of Wirtemberg, in 1723. He taught himself mathematics, and at the age of fourteen designed machines and instruments, which was his father’s profession, with the greatest dexterity and justness. These pursuits did not hinder him from cultivating the belles lettres: he acquired the Latin tongue, and wrote it with elegance. In 1750, the university of Gottingen chose him for their mathematical professor; and every year of his short, but glorious life, henceforward was marked with some considerable discoveries in geometry and astronomy. He published several works on those sciences, that are all reckoned excellent; and some are inserted in the second volume of the “Memoirs of the University of Gottingen.” His labours seem to have exhausted him; for he died worn out in 1762.

His table of refractions, deduced from his astronomical observations, very nicely agrees with that of Doctor Bradley; and his theory of the moon, and astronomical tables and precepts, were so well esteemed, that they were rewarded by the English Board of longitude, with the premium of three thousand pounds, which sum was paid to his widow after his death. These tables and precepts were published by the Board of longitude in 1770. Besides these, he published, 1. “A new and general method of | resolving all Geometrical Problems, by geometrical lines,” printed at Eslingen, 1741, in 4to. 2. “A Mathematical Atlas, in which all mathematical science is comprised in sixty tables,Augsburg, 1748, folio. 3. “Account of a Lunar Globe constructed by the Cosmographical Society of Nuremberg, from new observations,1750, 4to. All these were written in German. He published also many very exact maps. A first volume of his works in folio was published. at Gottingen in 1775. 1