Talk:John Allan Broun

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Pre-article creation discussion[edit]

Moved from User talk:Franamax on 23:54, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the Ref Desk answer. Could you help with the following? John Allan Brown is said here to be "FRS", but the Royal Society website doesn't seem to be able to find him. I tried "Brown" and "Allan Brown", but no luck. Other searches are not turning up much. Any ideas? I just want enough to write a short stub. Carcharoth (talk) 13:15, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Forgive me for using your talk page like this, but I found some more scraps using the alternative spellings of "Allen" and "Broun".
  • Manuscripts of John Allan Brown (1817-79), Director of the Trivandrum Magnetic Observatory (founded by the Rajah of Travancore in 1841). [1]
  • This is a descriptive page, so I'd say typo.
  • Mr Caldecott was the first Director of the Observatory. During 1840, the Observatory obtained the necessary equipments and made significant contributions during 1852-1865 when Mr. John Allan Brown, FRS was its Director. The pioneering work on the relation between surface geo-magnetic field variations and features on the solar surface made by Allan Brown is considered very important even today on Solar-Terrestrial Physics.[2]
  • Descriptive page and Broun is not the subject, so again I'd say typo.
  • 1878 John Allan Brown. For his investigations during thirty five years in magnetism and meteorology & for his improvements in methods of observation.[3]
  • Apparently a typo, should be fixed by RS.
  • John Allen Brown, a Scottish scientist, had established a miniature weather station at Agasthyarkoodam.[4]
  • Broun is not subject, apparent typo, note misspelling of fauna as "fona".
  • Allen J Broun Report on the Trivandrum Museum by Allen Broun, first Director of Museum, 1856 and 1865 (Edited in 1874 by Mr. Brown.) [5]
  • Actual content of the appendices is uniformly "John Allan Broun". (However note Trivandrum vs Trevandrum!)
  • In 1855 the director of Trivandrum Observatory, Mr.Allen Brown submitted a letter of proposal to the British Resident, General Cullen to start a museum in Trivandrum.A museum was opened to public in 1857 and seeing that the facilities and space are inadequate , a new building was built , designed by British architect Chisholm.[6]
  • Flickr - not reliable.
  • Gold dust: [7] (John Allan Broun - from the National Library of Scotland)
  • John Allan Broun (that spelling again): [8] from the National Archives.
And now the correct spelling has been tracked down, this Google search opens up more possibilities and sources. I'm very happy now! :-) Even finding this guy listed at User:Magnus Manske/Dictionary of National Biography/02 (public domain) doesn't dampen my spirits. Well, it does a bit, but now the challenge is to add more to this:
  • John Allan Broun (1817-1879), magnetician and meteorologist; educated at) Edinburgh University; director of magnetic observatory at Makerstouu, 1842-9, the results of his observations forming vols. xvii-xix. of Transactions of Royal Society of Edinburgh(18451860); director of Trevaudrum Magnetic Observatory, 1852; built observatory on Agiwtia Malley, the highest peak of Travancore i; hats; left India, 1865; lived successively at Lausanne and Stuttgart, and came to London, 1873; aided by grant from Royal Society, undertook to complete reduction of magnetic observations made at colonial stations; M.R.S., 1853. Published reports on Makerstoun and Trevandruin observatories. He discovered that the earth loses or gains magnetic intensity not locally, but as a whole, and" that great magnetic disturbances proceed from particular solar meridians.
Hope that wasn't too overwhelming. What do you think? Same person? "Broun, Middle English spelling for brown". Worth another line to the Royal Society, or just a redirect this time? Carcharoth (talk) 16:57, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Seems we have the definitive spelling, the RS deep down agrees, and their own primary source pretty much puts the lid on it.
I'll drop another line to the RS about their summary page, they can only block my mail address once :) As to redirects, probably a few are warranted to accomodate those coming from other sites to learn more on wiki, they're cheap enough. Certainly "John Allan Brown" shows up in enough places to warrant a redirect.
Start a stub in your uspace if you want and move this thread to its talk. I'll be interested how this turns out, especially where the DNB touts his experience with hats :) Franamax (talk) 18:24, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Well, the page I got that from says "These entries are from the public domain Dictionary of National Biography (1903). The original text is here. It is out of date and contains many OCR errors." - so "hats" is probably an OCR error, though for what I do not know! I will have to leave it out of the stub. I'm actually creating these stubs directly in mainspace. Keep an eye out for it. I haven't been very tidy with the formatting, so I'm hoping someone will come along one day and tidy them up... Thanks again for the advic. If I find any more RS stuff, I'll make a list! Carcharoth (talk) 21:54, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
It's up to you, but do consider moving this thread to the new stub talk page, it's got lots of good links, plus I'll know when the stub gets created. (Exclude last 1-2 posts at discretion). You've already dug up enough to make this article somewhat more than a stub! Franamax (talk) 22:07, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
end quote

Moved as suggested. Hope you like it! Carcharoth (talk) 23:54, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Questions to get answers for[edit]

  1. The major discovery of global magnetism sounds nifty. When did he make the discovery? Did he do it in India or, as the last paragraph suggests, when he was looking at data from all colonial stations? (The latter would make sense.) What are the implications of this discovery, and by what method does it occur? I know that this type of thing cannot be chased very far without having a competing subject in the article, but it would help establish the significance of the life as opposed to the name on a plaque at a place.
  2. The educational material is properly elided from DNB, which was one of their set pieces (DNB entries always have parentage, family income, education, then career, then children), but, given that this is a scientist, "worked with" and "based on the work of" and "led to the work of" kinds of things help contextualize the life.
  3. The migrations about the globe.... Why? How? Did he have piles of children? Piles of debts? Why does an officer at Edinburgh go to the Raj? Normally, it would be military service, civil service, or East India (not existing at that time, was it?) that would bring him to such a place and install him in such a position? Was it the local king that had the money and aspirations to go hire a highly qualified person? This would be very juicy to know.

Anyway, these are all things that are necessary flesh, in my humble opinion. Geogre (talk) 01:01, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

Thanks! The science stuff is something I need to chase up. The DNB language was rather archaic (look in "what links here" to find the on-wiki copy of the DNB entry - technically the abbreviated form of the DNB) and I may have mashed it (the DNB words) up beyond recall. What would help is a sneak look at what the current DNB says... East India? The location he was in was in south-west India. I think the migrations were fairly common for gentlemen scientists of that era. The British Empire established lots of research places (though why they did that, I don't know), such as the Royal Observatory in South Africa. Maybe the Royal Society and others were the drivig force behind things like this? Maybe it was the local kings after prestige or genuine interest (don't forget that India already had an ancient astronomical tradition). But sadly this is just speculation. Not sure how much further I can take this, though there was a reference to an obituary somewhere. Hang on... Carcharoth (talk) 01:08, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
  • (1) - Will look into this.
  • (2) - Don't have access to the full DNB entries.
  • (3) - See here: "The University Observatory which functions as part of the Department of Physics, commenced its operation in 1837. The Observatory is one of the oldest of its kind in modern India and it owes its origin to the initiative and vision of Sri. Swathi Tirunal, the Maharaja of erstwhile state of Travancore. The establishment of the Observatory was the result of discussions of Sri. Swathi Tirunal and Mr. Caldecott, the commercial agent to Travancore Government at Alleppey who used to make astronomical observations with his own portable instruments. Mr. Caldecott was the first Director of the Observatory. During 1840, the Observatory obtained the necessary equipments and made significant contributions during 1852-1865 when Mr. John Allan Brown, FRS was its Director. The pioneering work on the relation between surface geo-magnetic field variations and features on the solar surface made by Allan Brown is considered very important even today on Solar-Terrestrial Physics. The Observatory was again reorganised in 1892..."

Does that help? It seems Caldecott was the gentleman astronomer, and when he died, Broun replaced him. To get a flavour of the relationship between Broun and the Maharaja, see here. Fascinating bits if you can get past the boring stuff. It seems the initial museum and society folded rather quickly on Braun's departure, but I think if he were alive to see it today, that he (and the Maharajas) would be pleased to know that a museum, Napier Museum, did eventually work out and was successful, and that Trivandrum Zoo is still there, though the African animals might have suprised him and them! Now, where is that obituary... Carcharoth (talk) 01:23, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

It seems like you'll need (or someone well (my time is really, really, really overtaxed right now) have to get ahold of the print New DNB (2004). From the above, I gather that the Maharaja was wealthy and wanted to add prestige, and so he had the funding for an astronomer. He employed his own factor for a bit -- a gentleman scientist of no great training -- and then recruited a hotshot to take the position. That makes all the difference, as it means that Broun was not there as part of a British government duty (civil service) or a commercial empire (the British East India Company was called that only to distinguish from the West Indies, and it meant all of India). It seems, then, that you'll need to go to one of the scientific encyclopedias to look him up to get the importance of his discoveries. It also seems that you'll need a redirect from John Allan Brown, too, as that source had the w spelling, so it's likely others will do the same.
I have access to some of this stuff, but I don't really have time for the next several weeks. I get the vibe that this is a person who needs a good bit more than is present. He feels major. Geogre (talk) 10:48, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, whenever you have the time would be great. Filling in the redlinks at Royal Medal has been interesting. Probably all are fellows of the Royal Society, but some are a little obscure - more footnotes in history. Some, like this guy, are more major and more interesting, as you note. If they have an obituary, that is usually a good indication of some level of importance (either that, or they were an administrator...). For instance, Fownes had a obituary, and the feeling is that he could have become a major figure if he hadn't died young. Beck on the other hand doesn't have an obituary listed (though there may be one somewhere), and was involved in a fascinating scandal. Maybe that was why there is, seemingly, no obituary, but that is just speculation. Carcharoth (talk) 11:03, 23 April 2008 (UTC)


From the Royal Society database entry here, we have: "Obituaries: Proc Roy Soc 1879-1880 vol 30 pp iii-vi". Trouble is, the 1854-1904 volumes of the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London are locked away (for me) behind this JSTOR link. Unlike those of astronomers from the same era, which are usually freely available on the NASA ADS, the Royal Society stuff is part of a subscription service. Carcharoth (talk) 01:36, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

I've sent you the text of Broun's obituary. Someguy1221 (talk) 03:37, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
This response may have come from my request for help, in any case, thanks SG! It turns out there is actually a resource for these kind of access problems: Wikipedia:WikiProject Resource Exchange. Franamax (talk) 04:12, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
NB: Winner of Keith Medal of Royal_Society_of_Edinburgh (from obit) Franamax (talk) 04:51, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Thanks all! Will get back to this soon. Carcharoth (talk) 06:53, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

More sources[edit]

Some more sources. Lots coming out of the woodwork now that we know the name is "Broun" and not "Brown".

Maybe someone can do something with these at some point? Carcharoth (talk) 02:01, 23 April 2008 (UTC)