Tyndall subject of Irish podcast

The podcast Science Spinning in Ireland interviewed Norman McMillan about John Tyndall on October 12th. Click here (direct mp3 download).

Published in: on October 17, 2011 at 8:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tyndall in the news

Portrait of John Tyndall FRS by John McClure Hamilton

Royal Society collection

Michael Reidy looks at Tyndall’s time in the Alps in “The Weisshorn, 1861-2011″ for the Newsletter of the History of Science Society (July 2011)

Trinity College Dublin: TCD Geneticist Unearths Correspondence between Irish Physicist and Famous British Botanist (August 2011; that botanist is Joseph Dalton Hooker)

ThinkOrSwim.ie: John Tyndall – Ireland’s Greatest Climate Scientist (August 2011)

EPA Climate Change Lecture Series (September 27, 2011) – ‘Tyndall : His Work and Scientific Heritage’

History of Science Centre’s blog (Royal Society): The Xcentric Mr Tyndall? (September 2011)

Science Spinning: A (GREENHOUSE) GAS MAN: John Tyndall (September 2011)

Published in: on September 6, 2011 at 6:42 pm  Comments (2)  
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John Tyndall Conference, Dublin, Ireland, Sept. 2011 – abstracts due by July 1st


The Royal Irish Academy and the Environmental Protection Agency are holding a scientific conference on 28-30 September 2011, in Dublin, Ireland, to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of John Tyndall’s breakthrough experimental work on the absorption of infrared radiation by various atmospheric gases that are essentially transparent to solar radiation

John Tyndall is an overlooked genius from Ireland whose work revolutionised science and created entirely new experimental techniques and scientific disciplines. His work on infra-red spectroscopy served to form the basis of our understanding of the Earth’s climate system and current awareness of the threats of global warming and climate change. In this, he is ranked with the greatest physicists of 19th and 20th century – “Fourier, Tyndall, Arrhenius, Kirchoff, Planck and Einstein”, (Ray Pierrehumbert, Physics Today, Jan 2011). In the 150 years since the publication of Tyndalls seminal work, the sciences of atmospheric radiative transfer and climate have developed and deepened our understanding of the world we live in and our impact upon it.

This conference will celebrate Tyndall’s achievements and examine developments in key areas of climate science, current scientific issues and their implications. It will also celebrate the increasing recognition of Tyndall’s work and reputation.

Topics and Call for Abstracts:

The Tyndall Conference 2011 will cover the following topics, and the Scientific Advisory Committee would like to invite the submission of abstracts on topics 2 and 3:

John Tyndall: his life, work and scientific legacy – A number of presentations highlighting different aspects of Tyndall’s contribution to science.
Greenhouse Warming Potentials and other metrics for comparison of radiatively active substances.
Climate feedbacks: the current science.

Abstracts should be submitted by July 1st 2011.

Published in: on May 26, 2011 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Work on Tyndall from Ciaran Toal

Ciaran Toal has a forthcoming article that assesses the impact of Tyndall on the Association in the 1870s:

Toal, C. ‘Preaching at the British Association for the Advancement of Science: sermons, secularisation and the rhetoric of conflict in the 1870s,’ British Journal for the History of Science

He has also done work on Tyndall in Bristol 1875, one year after the “Belfast address,” which he will be presenting at the British Society for the History of Science conference this summer: “After Tyndall: Science, Religion and the Bristol Meeting of the British Association.”

Published in: on May 18, 2011 at 9:53 am  Comments (1)  
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Tim Jones on Tyndall and Huxley “Ill-Prepared Alpinists”

Head on over to Tim Jones’ blog Zoonomian for a neat post about Tyndall and Huxley in the Alps.

Published in: on January 28, 2011 at 9:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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Two forthcoming books of interest

February will see the publication of Ruth Barton’s The X Club: Power and Authority in Victorian Science, in the Studies in History of Science series from Ashgate. Barton is an historian of science at the University of Auckland, and a participant in the Tyndall Correspondence Project. I assume this book is a culmination of her many published articles on the X Club.

March will see the publication of Ursula DeYoung’s 2009 dissertation-to-book A Vision of Modern Science: John Tyndall and the Role of the Scientist in Victorian Culture, in the Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology series. DeYoung recently received her doctorate from Oxford University. Here’s the summary:

“Ursula DeYoung examines a pivotal moment in the history of science through the career and cultural impact of the Victorian physicist John Tyndall, one of the leading figures of his time and a participant in many highly publicized debates that extended well beyond the purely scientific realm. This book argues that as a researcher, public lecturer, and scientific popularizer, Tyndall had a sizable impact on the establishment of the scientist as an authoritative figure in British culture. As a promoter of science in education and one of the foremost advocates of freeing scientific study from the restraints of theology, Tyndall was both a celebrated and a notorious figure, who influenced areas of Victorian society from governmental policy to educational reform to the debates over Darwin’s theory of natural selection. In contextualizing Tyndall’s varying fields of research and involvement, DeYoung explores many different aspects of nineteenth-century culture, including the development of public science, the role of popular media, and the growth of university research. It engages with the latest scholarship on Victorian culture and the history of science while at the same time exploring the reasons for Tyndall’s heretofore neglected reputation. This book aims to establish John Tyndall as an important and influential figure of the Victorian period whose scientific discoveries and philosophy of science in society are still relevant today.”

Published in: on January 6, 2011 at 9:13 am  Comments (1)  
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Tyndall plaque in Leighlinbridge

John Tyndall was born in Leighlinbridge, County Carlow, Ireland in 1820. Twitter user @Sid_PEOG posted the following on October 24th:

Was in Leighlinbridge-birthplace of JohnTyndall Here is their tribute to him.Too little IMHO! #histsci #atheism http://yfrog.com/mz8bjhj

Here is the picture:


Click here for more on Tyndall and Leighlinbridge, and here for images of other plaques around the village

Published in: on October 25, 2010 at 8:20 am  Leave a Comment  

More 19th-century caricatures with Tyndall

To add to my post about 19th-Century Caricature Prints with Tyndall, here are three more (all from Puck magazine) I have come across, two from the website Cartooning Evolution, 1861-1925, and the first one I saw on eBay (a reader of my Darwin blog emailed me a high quality scan of it but asked not to share it publicly):


Reason against Unreason, pitting luminous Men of Science (Darwin, Huxley, Tyndall, Spencer, etc.) against Supernaturalism, Fanaticism, Bigotry, and the Bible



June 3, 1885, "Mr. Beecher is Trying to Bridge the Chasm between the Old Orthodoxy and Science with his Little Series of 'Evolution Sermons.'"



March 14, 1883, "An Appalling Attempt to Muzzle the Watch-Dog of Science: 'The Society for the Suppression of Blasphemous Literature proposes to get up cases against Huxley and Tyndall, Herbert Spencer and others who, by their writings have sown widespread unbelief and, in some cases rank athiesm.' -- Tel. London, March 5, 1883."



Published in: on October 15, 2010 at 9:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Library book sale finds

At two recent library book sales I have come across some Tyndall books. First, I found Hours of Exercise in the Alps (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1896), a collection of writings about mountaineering. Second, as I scanned through the titles on the spines of old books at another sale, the word science caught my eye, then I saw fragments, then the name Tyndall. Thus, I now own a copy of the second volume of Tyndall’s Fragments of Science (New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1905), which contains articles and lectures regarding religion, prayer, Darwin, evolution, his Belfast Address, and spontaneous generation.

Book sales are so much fun!

Published in: on October 12, 2010 at 9:08 pm  Comments (4)  
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Tyndall on Darwin

I had a chance to look at Thomas Glick’s new book, What about Darwin?: All Species of Opinion from Scientists, Sages, Friends, and Enemies Who Met, Read, and Discussed the Naturalist Who Changed the World, at a Barnes & Noble in Seattle a little over a week ago.

Seattle Barnes & Noble - Thomas Glick's "What about Darwin?"

There is one entry for John Tyndall:

Seattle Barnes & Noble - Tyndall on Darwin

Here’s the text, which comes from Tyndall’s famous Belfast Address:

Mr. Darwin shirks no difficulty; and, saturated as the subject was with his own thought, he must have known better than his critics the weakness as well as the strength of his theory. This of course would be of little avail [43/44] were his object a temporary dialectic victory instead of the establishment of a truth which he means to be everlasting. But he takes no pains to disguise the weakness he has discerned; nay, he takes every pains to bring it into the strongest light. His vast resources enable him to cope with objections started by himself and others, so as to leave the final impression upon the reader’s mind that, if they be not completely answered, they certainly are not fatal. Their negative force being thus destroyed, you are free to be influenced by the vast positive mass of evidence he is able to bring before you. This largeness of knowledge and readiness of resource render Mr. Darwin the most terrible of antagonists. Accomplished naturalists have levelled heavy and sustained criticisms against him—not always with the view of fairly weighing his theory, but with the express intention of exposing its weak points only. This does not irritate him. He treats every objection with a soberness and thoroughness which even Bishop Butler might be proud to imitate, surrounding each fact with its appropriate detail, placing it in its proper relations, and usually giving it a significance which, as long as it was kept isolated, failed to appear. This is done without a trace of ill-temper. He moves over the subject with the passionless strength of a glacier; and the grinding of the rocks is not always without a counterpart in the logical pulverization of the objector.

Published in: on October 4, 2010 at 8:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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