Edward Sabine

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General Sir Edward Sabine KCB FRS (14 October 1788 – 26 June 1883) was an Irish astronomer, geophysicist, ornithologist and explorer.

Two branches of Sabine's work in particular deserve very high credit: Determination of the length of the seconds pendulum, a simple pendulum whose time period on the surface of the Earth is two seconds, that is, one second in each direction; and extensive researches connected with the Earth's magnetic field. He led the effort to establish a system of magnetic observatories in various parts of British territory all over the globe and a great part of his life was devoted to their direction, and to the reduction and discussion of their observations.

While the majority of his research bears on one or other of the subjects just mentioned, other research deals with such widely different topics as the birds of Greenland (Sabine's Gull is named for him), ocean temperatures, the Gulf Stream, barometric measurement of heights, arc of the meridian, glacial transport of rocks, the volcanoes of the Hawaiian Islands, and various points of meteorology.


Early life

He was born in Dublin to Joseph Sabine, member of a prominent Anglo-Irish family whose connections with the country can be traced back to the seventeenth century. His mother died when he was just one month old. His elder brother was naturalist Joseph Sabine.

He was educated at Marlow and at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. In 1803 he obtained a commission in the Royal Artillery as a 2nd lieutenant, becoming a captain ten years later. He attained the rank of major-general in 1859.

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