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Ernst Florenz Friedrich Chladni
CHLADNI, Ernst Florenz Friedrich.

CHLADNI, Ernst Florenz Friedrich.
(1756 - 1827)

(Born: Wittenberg, Germany, 30 November 1756; Died: Breslau, Germany, 3 April 1827) German physicist.

At the urging of his father, until 1778 Chladni studied philosophy and jurisprudence in Wittenberg and Leipzig. After the death of his father however, he turned to the natural sciences. His hopes of becoming a professor of mathematics at the University of Wittenberg were not realized. He turned to experimental acoustics and discovered the Chladni sound figures, which are named for him. To support himself, he invented a musical instrument called the Euphon, which he took on lecture tours to Dresden (1791), to Göttingen and Berlin (1792). Eventually, Chladni was appointed professor of philosophy and jurisprudence at Kemberg near Wittenberg.

Biographical references: Bernhardt, W., Dr. Ernst Chladni der Akustiker. Eine Biographie und geschichtliche Darstellung seiner Entdeckungen zur Erinnerung an seinen hundertjährigen Geburtstag den 30. November 1856. Wittenberg, 1856. 105 p., portrait. [BL 1609/4835]. Chladni, E.F.F., Über den kosmischen Ursprung der Metekorite und Feuerkugeln (1794). Leipzig, Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Geest & Portig, 1979. 103 p., illus., facsim, port. [Published as: Ostwalds Klassiker der exakten Wissenschaften. vol. 258.; includes a biography of Chladni and a study on the impact of his work.]. DBA: I 187, 29-73; II 223, 314-320. DSB: 3, 258-9 [By S.C. Dostrovsky]. Eitner, Quellenlexikon, 1959. Gerber, Historisch-biographisches Lexikon, 1812-4. Hamberger & Meusel, Gelehrte Teutschland, 1796-1834. Kohlschuetter, V., Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni. 1897. 45 p. [A biographical sketch; BL 12249.m.11.]. Loewenfeld, C., Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni. Skizze von Leben und Werk ... Mit 3 Tafeln [including portraits] ... Sonderabdruck aus: Abhandlungen des Naturwissenschaftlichen Vereins zu Hamburg, etc. Hamburg, 1929. [BL 20088.b.24.]. Marvin, U., "Ernst Florens Chladni (1756-1827) and the origins of modern meteorite research", Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 31 (1996), 545-88. Mayerhöfer, Lexikon der Naturwissenschaften, 1958-75: 1, 644-5. Melde, F., Chladni's Leben und Wirken. Marburg, 1888. Meusel, Verstorbenen Teutschen Schrifsteller, 1802-16. NDB: 3, ??. Poggendorff: 1, cols. 439-40. Schimanck, H., "Beiträge zur Lebengeschichte von Ernst Florenz Friedrich Chladni," Sudhoffs Archiv für Gechichte der Medizin und der Naturwissenschaften, 37 (1953), 370-6. Ullmann, D., Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni. Leipzig, B.G. Teubner, 1983. 76 p., illus. [Published as: Biographien hervorragender Naturwissenschaftler, Techniker und Mediziner, vol. 65.]. WBI. World Who's Who in Science: 331.

Ueber den Ursprung, 1794

1. German, 1794.
Ueber den | Ursprung | der von Pallas gefundenen | und andern ihn ähnlicher | Eisenmassen, | und über einige damit in Verbindungen stehende | Naturreicheinungen. | Von | Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni, | [...2 lines of titles and memberships...] | [rule] | Riga, | bey Johann Friedrich Herrknoch. | 1794.

8°: [1]-63, [1] p.

Very rare. Considered one of the foundation works of modern meteoritic studies, this thin volume bears the cumbersome and unrevealing title, Concerning the Origin of the Mass of Iron Discovered by Pallas and Others similar to it, and Concerning a few Natural Phenomena Connected therewith. However, at the start of the text Chladni asserts unequivocally that the fireballs sometimes seen in the sky consisted of compact and heavy matter, which came from cosmic space, and that the iron mass found by Pallas in Siberia was a meteorite similar to others that had sporadically fallen in other parts of Europe. Chladni then convincingly presents his evidence for this assertion.

At the time, meteorites and the fireballs that preceded them were thought to be of atmospheric origin and not necessarily connected to one another. To support his theory that meteorites and the fireballs that preceded their impact were of cosmic origin, Chladni compiled accounts from about two dozen reports. From this Chladni concluded the fireballs could not be connected to the northern lights, because of their high altitude they could not be electrical in nature, and they were unlike lightning in having a distinctive shape and following a parabolic path in the sky while they were also subject of repeated explosions. Chladni next turned his attention to reports of falls, documenting a total of nineteen. The most impressive, certainly, was Hraschina, which had been preceded by a fireball that had exploded into several parts and attested to by the sworn statements of seven eyewitnesses. Eight of the nineteen falls cited had occurred in the eighteenth-century: Ploschkovitz, Nicorps, Hraschina, Tabor, Albareto, Lucé, Aire-sur-la-Lys, and Eichstädt. Chladni next examined meteoritic iron discussing principally the Pallas iron [Krasnojarsk], although he provides brief accounts of other iron masses. Chladni concludes that there are bodies outside the earth's atmosphere that occasionally fall to earth as meteorites.

The impact of Chladni's work was to document in a well reasoned manner (1) that stones do fall from the sky, (2) that the stones (or irons) are the substance composing fireballs, and (3) that the fireballs have a cosmic origin. The first two ideas took hold in the scientific community soon after publication; however, it would be many decades before the cosmic origin of meteorites was definitively proven.

French transl., 1802-3: Coquebert, Eugène, trans., "Réflexions sur l'origine des diverses Masses, der fer natif, et notamment de celle trouvée par Pallas en Sibérie," Traduites de l'Allemand de M. Chladni, Journal des Mines, 15 (1802-3), 286-320, 446-485.

Facsimile reprint, 1974: [Los Angeles?], Organizing Committee of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society, 1974. x, 63 p.

Another edition, 1979: Über Den Kosmischen Ursprung | Der Meteorite Und Feuerkugeln | (1794) | Von Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni | Mit Erlauterungen von | Günter Hoppe | Mit 4 Abbildungen und einem Porträt des Verfassers | [ornament] | Leipzig 1979 | Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft | Geest & Portig K.-G. [1]-103, [1] p., illus., port.

Contents: [1-2], Half title page, "Ostwalds Klassiker | Der Exakten Wissenschaften | Band 258 | ...," verso portrait of Chladni.; [3-4], Title page, verso publication info.; [5], "Inhalt."; [6]-9, "Einleitung."; [10]-17, "Biographisches über Chladni."; [18]-34, "Entstehung, Schicksal und Beudeutung | der Schrift Chlandis."; [35], "Chladnis Schrift von 1794."; 36, Facsimile title page of the 1794 edition.; [37]-38, "Inhalt."; 39-90, Text of Chladni's work.; [91]-99, "Anmerkungen."; [100], "Literatur."; [101]-103, "Nameverzeichnis."; [1 pg], Publisher's list.

Published as: Ostwalds Klassiker der exakten Wissenschaften, vol. 258, this modern edition contains biographical information about Chladni and an essay describing the importance of Chladni's original work in the science of meteorities.

Bibliographical references: BL [B.366.(7.)]. Burke, Cosmic Debris, 1986: p. 40-5 [includes portrait]. LKG: XVI 342. Marvin, U., "Ernst Florens Chladni (1756-1827) and the origins of modern meteorite research", Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 31 (1996), 545-88. Ullmann, D., Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni. Leipzig, B.G. Teubner, 1983. 76 p., illus. [Published as: Biographien hervorragender Naturwissenschaftler, Techniker und Mediziner, vol. 65.].

2. German, 1819.
Ueber | Feuer=Meteore, | und | über die mit denselben | herabgefallenen Massen, | von | Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni, | [...10 lines of titles and memberships...] | [rule] | Nebst zehn Steindrucktafeln und deren Erklarung | von | Carl von Schreibers, | Director der k.k. Hof-Mineralien-Cabinette zu Wien. | [tapered rule] | Wien 1819. | Im Verlag bey J.G. Heubner.

8°: [iii]-xxiv, [1]-434 p., 10 lithographic plates. Includes bibliographical references. Includes a supplement written by Karl von Schreibers, "Anhang. Verzeichniss der Sammlung von Meteormassen, welche sich im K. K. Hof-Mineralien-Cabinette in Wien befindet, vom Director von Schreibers" (p. 425-434).

Contents: [iii-iv], Title page, verso blank.; [v]-x, "Vorrede."-signed E.F.F. Chladni, September 1819.; [xi]-xxiii, "Uebersicht des Inhalts."; xxiv, Errata.; [1], Sectional title page.; [2], Blank.; [3]-434, Text.

Rare. After the appearance of his 1794 work, Chladni continued his interest in meteorites. His employment as a journeying lecturer provided him with the opportunity to scour libraries for rare books and papers that documented fireballs and accounts of stones falling from the sky. In particular, Chladni concentrated on eyewitness accounts that were recorded in the old literature. The years 1816 to 1819 were particular productive for this purpose, as he began delivering a series of lectures on fireballs and meteorites-the first such popular lectures ever given on the subject. Using his own collection of meteorites that he had acquired through donation, purchase or trade, he traveled from Paris to Vienna thrilling his audience with the accounts of the sky raining stone. As a consequence, he also had the opportunity to examine the meteorite specimens held in many private and public collections, most notably those at Vienna, the largest holding of the time. This allowed Chladni to complete his final book on the subject of meteoritics, About Fire Meteors and their Fallen Masses, which was published in Vienna in 1819.

Following the same formula as his 1794 work, Chladni provides a detailed description of the meteorite theory, adding comprehensive documentation of all reports of fireballs and meteorites. The importance and authority of the work in meteoritics was immediately recognized, although Chladni's evidence was still not sufficient to convince the scientific community of the cosmic origin of the stones. At Chladni's request, the director of the K.K. Hof-Mineralien-Cabinette of Vienna, Karl von Schreibers [1775-1852] added a supplement, documenting the meteorite falls represented in that collection.

Bibliographical references: BL [1136.i.28.]. NUC.

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