The Ascent of John Tyndall

The Ascent of John Tyndall

Oxford University | English | 2018 | ISBN-10: 0198788959 | 576 Pages | PDF | 36.29 MB

by Roland Jackson (Author)

Rising from a humble background in rural southern Ireland, John Tyndall became one of the foremost physicists, communicators of science, and polemicists in mid-Victorian Britain. In science, he is known for his important work in meteorology, climate science, magnetism, acoustics, and bacteriology. His discoveries include the physical basis of the warming of the Earth's atmosphere (the basis of the greenhouse effect), and establishing why the sky is blue. But he was also a leading communicator of science, drawing great crowds to his lectures at the Royal Institution, while also playing an active role in the Royal Society. Tyndall moved in the highest social and intellectual circles. A friend of Tennyson and Carlyle, as well as Michael Faraday and Thomas Huxley, Tyndall was one of the most visible advocates of a scientific world view as tensions grew between developing scientific knowledge and theology. He was an active and often controversial commentator, through letters, essays, speeches, and debates, on the scientific, political, and social issues of the day, with strongly stated views on Ireland, religion, race, and the role of women. Widely read in America, his lecture tour there in 1872-73 was a great success.

Roland Jackson paints a picture of an individual at the heart of Victorian science and society. He also describes Tyndall's importance as a pioneering mountaineer in what has become known as the Golden Age of Alpinism. Among other feats, Tyndall was the first to traverse the Matterhorn. He presents Tyndall as a complex personality, full of contrasts, with his intense sense of duty, his deep love of poetry, his generosity to friends and his combativeness, his persistent ill-health alongside great physical stamina driving him to his mountaineering feats. Drawing on Tyndall's letters and journals for this first major biography of Tyndall since 1945, Jackson explores the legacy of a man who aroused strong opinions, strong loyalties, and strong enmities throughout his life.

Roland Jackson paints a picture of an individual at the heart of Victorian science and society. * Playing Pasts * Excellent biography... The Ascent of John Tyndall is a long-overdue, magnificent tribute to an important, but largely under-appreciated scientist. Highly recommended. * Richard Carter, Friends of Darwin * One of the most important mountaineering biographies to have been published in recent years... Roland Jackson's biography of John Tyndall is not only a tour de force of scholarship, its also an eminently readable book... It's a magnificent piece of work and a must-read for every scholar of Alpine history. * Alex Roddie, The Great Outdoors * Splendid monument of a biography. * Barbara Kiser, Nature * Roland Jackson has done a thorough job... it is certainly the best biography of Tyndall. * John Gribbin, Literary Review * It was not until 1945, more than half a century after his death, that a semi-authorised biography of Tyndall was published. Now Jackson has authoritatively redressed this injustice. * Jules Stewart, Geographical *

About the Author
Roland Jackson is a historian of science, with interests also in contemporary science and innovation policy, and in bioethics. His recent posts include: Head of the Science Museum, London; Chief Executive of the British Science Association; and Executive Chair of Sciencewise. He is a General Editor of The Correspondence of John Tyndall, being published in 19 volumes by the Royal Institution.


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