Nollet, John Anthony

, a French abbe, and member of most of the literary societies of Europe, was born at Pimpre“, in the district of Noyon, Nov. 19, 1700. Notwithstanding the obscurity in which his finances obliged him to live, he soon acquired fame as an experimental philosopher. M. Dufay associated him in his electrical researches; and M. de Reaumur assigned to him his laboratory and these gentlemen may be considered as his preceptors. M. Dufay took him along with him in a journey he made into England; and Nollet profited so well of this opportunity, as to institute a friendly and literary correspondence with some of the most celebrated men in this country. The king of Sardinia gave him an invitation to Turin, to perform a course of experimental philosophy to the duke of Savoy. From thence he travelled into Italy, where he collected some good observations concerning the natural history of the country. In France he was master of philosophy and natural history to the royal family; and professor royal of experimental philosophy to the college of Navarre, and to the schools of artillery and engineers. The academy of sciences appointed him adjunct-mechanician in 1739, associate i 1742, and pensioner in 1757. Nollet died the 24th of April, 1770, regretted by all his friends, but especially by his relations, whom he always succoured with an | affectionate attention; but his fame, as an electrician, in which character he was best known, did not survive him long. His’ works are, 1.” Recueils de Lettres sur TElectricite;“1753, 3 vols. 12mo. '2.” Essai sur l’Electricite des corps;“1 vol. 12mo. 3. Recherches sur les causes particulieres des Phenomenes Electriques,” 1 vol. 12mo. 4. “L’Art des Experiences,1770, 3 vols. 12mo. In these are contained his theory on electricity, which he maintained with the most persevering obstinacy against all the arguments of his antagonists, who were perhaps all the eminent electrical philosophers of Europe. It is no easy matter to form a very adequate notion of this theory, which has been long since abandoned by every person. When an electric is excited, electricity flows to it from all quarters, and when thus effluent (as he termed it), it drives light bodies before it. Hence the reason why excited bodies attract. When the electricity is effluent, the light bodies are of course driven from the electric, which in that state appears to repel. He conceived every electric to be possessed of two different kinds of pores, one for the emission of the electric matter, and the other for its reception. Besides his papers in the “Memoirs of the Academy of Sciences” from 1740 to 1767, we have in our “Philosophical Transactions,” the result of a great number of experiments, made by the abbe Nollet, on the eflect produced by electricity on the flowing of water through capillary tubes; on the evaporation of liquids; the transpiration of vegetables; and the respiration of animals. These last experiments have been often repeated since, but the results drawn by the abbe are not considered as established. 1


Le Necrologe des Hommes Celebres for 1772. —Dict. Hist. Thomson’s Hist, of the Royal Society. Priestley’s Hist, of Electricity.