2-1. Joseph Sweetman Ames

Joseph Sweetman Ames (1864–1943) graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1886, then went to Berlin to work in Hermann Helmholtz’ laboratory. In 1887 he returned to Hopkins to study spectroscopy with Henry Rowland, working from 1888 to 1891 as an assistant in the latter’s laboratory. He defended his thesis in 1890, and became an associate professor of physics at Hopkins in 1891. Ames spent his entire career at Hopkins; he was promoted to full professor in 1899, served as provost from 1926 to 1929, and as university president from 1929 to 1935. He succeeded Rowland in 1901 as director of the physical laboratory.11For accounts of Ames’ career see Crew (1944) and Kevles (1970).

Ames probably met Poincaré during the physics congress held from 6 to 12 August 1900 in Paris, where he served as a member of the US delegation, and delivered a paper on the mechanical equivalent of heat (Ames 1900). Poincaré’s letter to Ames concerns another student of Rowland’s, Harold Pender, who was in Paris in order to help resolve his conflict with Victor Crémieu over the reality of the Rowland effect. Pender solicited a $150 extension of his grant from the executive committee of the an extension of his Carnegie grant in order to prolong his stay in Paris. In particular, Pender wanted to ensure completion of the experiments then in progress, and to demonstrate the disputed Rowland effect before the French Physical Society, which had invited him to its Easter meeting.22Ames to D.C. Gilman, 27.03.1903, Harold Pender file, Carnegie Institution of Washington. For an overview of the Crémieu-Pender experiments, see the introduction to Poincaré’s correspondence with Victor Crémieu.

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