|Administrative history||Son of Francis Joseph Schuster of Frankfurt, who in 1869 transferred his business in cotton goods to Manchester to escape Prussian nationality when Frankfurt annexed by Prussia. Left the Gymnasium in Frankfurt in 1868 to learn French at Geneva, where he also studied chemistry under Marignac, physics under Soret, and astronomy under Plantamour at the Geneva Academy. In 1870 he joined his family in Manchester, initially joining the firm of Schuster Brothers as an apprentice, but also attending evening classes in chemistry at Owen's College. He entered Owen's College as a day student in 1871, where he turned to spectrum analysis for special study, the Royal Society publishing his first paper 'On the Spectrum of Nitrogen'. In 1872 under Roscoe's guidance he went to Heidelberg to study under Kirchoff, and obtained his Ph.D 'magna cum laude'. |
He was appointed by the Royal Society to lead the expedition to observe the total solar eclipse off the coast of Siam, although the photographic plates being used were much too slow to be successful. He then worked at the Cavendish Laboratory 1876-1881 with Clerk Maxwell, and collaborated with Lord Rayleigh on the value of the ohm. He also took part in his second eclipse expedition to Colorado in 1878. In 1878 he was also appointed to the Professorship of Applied Mathematics at Owens College in Manchester, where he again took up spectrum analysis research. He still remained fascinated by eclipses, and was at last successful in photographing the spectrum of the solar corona on an expedition to Egypt in 1882, and went on his fourth and last eclipse expedition to the West Indies [Caribbean] in 1886.
He performed pioneering work on the discharge of electricity in gases, this being the subject of both Bakerian lectures. In 1888 he was appointed Professor of Physics in Owen's College on the death of Balfour Stewart. His own interests moved on to terrestrial magnetism, optics, solar physics, and the mathematical theory of periodicities. In 1896 Roentgen communicated to him his discovery of X-rays, experiments which Schuster repeated successfully, his laboratory subsequently being inundated with requests from the medical profession for aid in the introduction of X-ray practice.
In 1900 the Royal Society, then the governing body of the Meteorological Office which was making difficulties for the Society with its ever-increasing demands for funds, appointed him to the Meteorological Council. In 1905 the Council was replaced by a Meteorological Committee under direct Treasury control, with Schuster one of the two Royal Society Representatives on the Committee. He served for thirty two years, taking a leading part in its work and acting as Vice- Chairman after the Office was transferred to the Air Ministry in 1919. He was also responsible for introducing meteorology as a university subject in England, funding a small department of meteorology as part of the Physics Department of Manchester University in 1905, and funding the Readership in Meteorology at Cambridge University at his own expense from 1907.
Administratively his work was very varied, and included work for the College and University, such as building new physical laboratories at Manchester, for the Royal Society and Government. His work also strongly supported international science; he was the first secretaryof the International Research Council from 1919 to 1928, and served as chairman of the Seismological Committee of the International Association of Academies.