Saturday, November 20, 2010

What is Chladni's "Catalogue" of Meteorites - Part II

As noted in the last post, Chladni published a catalogue of his own personal meteorite collection in 1825 in Kastner’s Archiv fuer die gesamte Naturlehre  However, a year later, a listing of meteorite falls — not specimens — was issued in Annales de Chimie, the scientific journal started by Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry.  The complete reference is:

E. F. F. Chladni, ‘Nouveau catalogue des chutes de pierres ou de fer; de poussières ou de substances molles, sèches ou humides, suivant l’ordre chronologique’, Annales de Chimie et de Physique 31, 253-270 (1826).

The Annales catalogue is available online at Google books:

But similar to Kastner, the Annales de Chimie listing is not a stand-alone work.  Some of the references to the literature on the falls are abbreviated, and unless one is familiar with Chladni’s previous reports on meteorite falls and his book, E. F. F. Chladni,  Über feuer-meteore, und über die mit denselben herabgefallenen massen, (Vienna, J.G. Heubner, 1819), critical information might be missed, and at least one researcher in the nineteenth century was led astray in this manner, and perhaps a few more.

So when one sees a citation to Chladni’s “catalogue” in a historical paper dated after 1827 with no other details provided, more than likely it’s a reference to the Annales paper and not the Kastner work.  This conclusion is based on two considerations.  First, the Annales work has the word “catalogue” in the title unlike the Kastner paper.  And second, in the early part of the nineteenth century, German works were not widely distributed in England and Ireland, and they became known after they were translated into French publications.  It is likely that Kastner did not enjoy the widespread distribution in England and Ireland that Annales did.


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