John Milne bigraphy, stories - Geologist and engineer

John Milne : biography

30 December 1849 - 31 July 1913

John Milne (30 December 1850 – 31 July 1913Who's Who 1914, p. xxiii) was a British geologist and mining engineer who worked on a horizontal seismograph.



Milne was born in Liverpool, England, the only child of John Milne of Milnrow, and at first raised in Rochdale and later moved to Richmond near London. He was educated at King's College School and the Royal School of Mines.

Early career

In the summers of 1873 and 1874, following a recommendation by the Royal School of Mines, Milne was hired by Cyrus Field as a mining engineer to explore Newfoundland and Labrador in search of coal and mineral resources. During this time he also wrote papers on the interaction of ice and rock,John Milne: Considerations on the Flotation of Icebergs-Geological Magazine (Decade II) (1877), 4: 65–71 Cambridge University Press and visited Funk Island, writing another paper on the newly extinct Great Auk.Relics of the Great Auk on Funk Island, by John Milne. The Field, 27 March, 3, 10 April 1875. In December, 1873 Milne accompanied Dr. Charles Tilstone Beke on an expedition to determine the true location of Mount Sinai in northwest Arabia. He took the opportunity to study the geology of the Sinai Peninsula and passed on a collection of fossils to the British Museum.

Career in Japan (1875–1895)

Milne was hired by the Meiji government of the Empire of Japan as a foreign advisor and professor of mining and geology at the Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo from 8 March 1876, where he worked under Henry Dyer and with William Edward Ayrton and John Perry. Partly from a sense of adventure and partly because he suffered from seasickness, he travelled overland across Siberia taking three months to reach Tokyo. In 1880, Sir James Alfred Ewing, Thomas Gray and John Milne, all British scientists working in Japan, began to study earthquakes following a very large tremor which struck the Yokohama area that year. They founded the Seismological Society of Japan (SSJ).Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The society funded the invention of seismographs to detect and measure the strength of earthquakes. Although all three men worked as a team on the invention and use of seismographs, John Milne is generally credited with the invention of the horizontal pendulum seismograph in 1880.Gregory Clancey. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006). Milne's instruments permitted him to detect different types of earthquake waves, and estimate velocities. In addition, the foreign professors trained Japanese students including Seikei Sekiya who would become, at the Imperial University, the first professor of seismology at any university in the world and his successor, Fusakichi Omori

who refined Milne's instruments to detect and record finer vibrations. 

Order of the Rising Sun

In June, 1895, Milne was commanded to attend a meeting with His Imperial Majesty Emperor Mutsuhito and following this, returned to England. Soon after his arrival he learned that the Emperor had conferred upon him a rare distinction, The Third Grade of the Order of the Rising Sun and a life pension of 1,000 yen. This was in recognition of Professor Milne's contributions to seismology during his long residence in Japan. L.K. Herbert-Gustar and P.A. Nott , biography of Milne John Milne, Father of Modern Seismology in 1980 pp 120 ISBN 0-904404-34-X Paul Kabrna "John Milne – the Man who Mapped the Shaking Earth" ISBN 978-0-9555289-0-3 Published by Craven & Pendle Geological Society in March 2007.pp68

Contributions to Anthropology

In addition to his work on seismology, from 1882 John Milne was also contributing to the world of anthropology. He helped develop theories on where the Ainu of northern Japan came from, and theories on the racial background of the prehistoric peoples of Japan in general. After having actually excavated for several years in the Omori shell mound, John Milne introduced the conception of the Koropok-guru race, racially linked with the Inuit. The word Koropok-guru came from an Ainu word meaning "the man under the rhubarb," i.e. a small person. An Ainu legend concerning the existence of such a people seems to have been first reported by Milne. However, Milne believed that only in Hokkaidō were prehistoric sites of the Koropok-guru people. For northeastern Japan proper, he subscribed to the tradition which assigned prehistoric sites to the Ainu, who lived in pits and made stone implements and pottery. He considered the inhabitants of the Kurile Islands, Sakhalin and southern Kamchatka to be of a different race, though possibly one related to the Koropok-guru. He anticipated the work of later scientists who in actual materials recovered recognized different prehistoric cultures for Hokkaidō and northeastern Japan.Nishioka His first cousin William Scoresby Routledge related to him though his mother, Emma Twycross, was also an anthropologist. Along with his wife Katherine Routledge they worked in the early twentieth century in both East Africa with the Kikuyu and on Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

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