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Barometer (detail), made by Adie & Son

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in Edinburgh

Barometer (detail), made by Adie & Son
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This photograph shows a detail of the signature on a ballooning barometer made in Edinburgh around 1850. A ballooning barometer is one that is capable of registering the low pressures and temperatures found at high altitudes to which a balloon might ascend.

The signature down the side of the scale reads: 'Adie & Son / EDINBURGH'. The barometric scale on this instrument reads from 20.5 inches to 32 inches, and the thermometer runs from -20 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. It has the usual Fortin-type cistern with glass window and ivory point for setting the mercury level, but the extreme length of its scale implies that it was used aeronautically, where the pressure drops with height.

Adie & Son of Edinburgh supplied instruments to Patrick Adie (Alexander Adie's youngest son), who started up in business in London in 1846, and who had close connections with John Welsh at Kew Observatory. Indeed, Adie was involved with balloon flights for meteorological purposes with Welsh in 1852. His instruments were used ten years later by James Glaisher and George Coxwell, who carried out balloon ascents for the purposes of scientific research.

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