National Maritime Museum Manuscripts : Observations taken by Fisher on Parry's expedition

National Maritime Museum Manuscripts

<p> <a href='/search?keyword=George%20Fisher'>George Fisher</a> was acting Chaplin and astronomer for Captain <a href='/search?keyword=William%20Parry'>William Parry</a>’s 1821 voyage to the Arctic on board <a href='/search?keyword=HMS%20Fury'> <i>HMS Fury</i> </a>. Parry and Fisher sailed in convoy with <a href='/search?keyword=George%20Francis%20Lyon'>George Francis Lyon</a> on board <a href='/search?keyword=HMS%20Hecla'> <i>HMS Hecla</i> </a> for the northernmost side of the Hudson Bay. Many of the volumes are notebooks and papers from this voyage including this rather extensive collection of experimental observations taken during the voyage outwards in search of the Northwest Passage and during time spent in the Arctic. A portable observatory was set up first on Winter Island, then later at Igloolik, an Inuit hamlet on an island very close to the Melville Peninsula, where the crews wintered in 1822 and the Inuit encountered Europeans for the first time. There are periodic mentions of the instruments involved in Fisher’s work, for example several sets of data [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(57);return false;'>55</a>] was collected with a dipping needle by <a href='/search?keyword=Donald'>Donald</a>. This volume has more notes than many of the other observation books that Fisher maintained during this voyage and texts punctuate the recorded observations and readings throughout the volume. To go with the measurements from Donald’s dipping needle there are Fisher’s speculations [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(13);return false;'>11</a>] regarding the observations as well as their reductions. Highlights of the data found in this volume are a set of readings [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(43);return false;'>41</a>] for the contraction rates of different metals when exposed to extremely low temperatures, investigations [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(55);return false;'>53</a>] into the effect of the cold and the presence of the Aurora Borealis on a variety of chemicals, and the specific gravity of bottled seawater taken from different depths [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(128);return false;'>126</a>]. There are also some readings [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(157);return false;'>155</a>] which relate to the subject of [<a href='/view/MS-FIS-00010/1'>FIS/10</a>], another of Fisher’s notebooks, concerning experiments on the temperature of animals. Fisher worked tirelessly during his time on board <a href='/search?keyword=HMS%20Fury'> <i>HMS Fury</i> </a> overcoming several bouts of illness, Parry commented in his Journal of the 1821 voyage that Fisher worked with <i>‘unabated zeal and perseverance’</i> and this volume, along with the others like it, filled with his data on such a wide range of topics confirms Parry’s judgement.</p> <p>Sophie Waring<br />History and Philosophy of Science<br />University of Cambridge<br /> </p>


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