My fellow grad student and I so far this semester have transcribed 75 letters, and we are hoping to do 50 more fore semester’s end. I am beginning to narrow down a topic or two for graduate research: either the relationship between Tyndall’s mountaineering and his biological researches, or looking closely at Tyndall’s lecture tour (on light) in America in 1872-1873 (it may have had to do more with promoting Darwin’s theory to American scientists). Interestingly, Tyndall donated all of his profits from the lecture tour to the Smithsonian to improve science education (in physics specifically).
From the Kilkenney Advertiser (2008-11-13):
John Tyndall FRS and father of the modern science of environmental monitoring will be commemorated by the unveiling of a plaque in Leighlinbridge, by Professor Roger Whatmore, CEO of the Tyndall National Institute, Cork at 11am on today.
This is a ‘Science Week’ event and the recording of the unveiling will enable anyone around the globe to see this important event as it will be broadcast by the Institute of Technology Carlow on the web on tomorrow, Friday November 14.
Tyndall was born in Leighlinbridge in 1820 and was educated locally in Ballinabranna. He obtained a PhD from Marburg University and from 1854 devoted his life to researches conducted in London’s Royal Institution of Great Britain, where he was initially appointed as Michael Faraday’s assistant and where for a decade or more collaborated in glaciological research. The importance of Tyndall’s work is now being rapidly appreciated given the developing crisis over climate change. Tyndall was the founder of modern experimental meteorological science and produced the first equipment for monitoring both the air and water. His work contributed an experimental understanding of greenhouse gases.
The UK’s influential Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research is named in his honour. This Carlowman was also a founder of the science of nephelometry (light-scattering) with Louis Pasteur of the science of bacteriology. Interestingly, his work established modern cleanroom techniques as he devised particulate and dust free experimental cabinets for his pioneering bacteriological work. He investigated ‘the floating matter in the air’ in these cabinets with intense beams of light. This contribution is today centrally important in the world-class fabrication researches conducted in the Tyndall National Institute and it is very appropriate indeed that Professor Whatmore is to conduct the unveiling.
As a boy, Tyndall was a dare devil, driving his poor mother demented climbing under the bridge in Leighlinbridge. He later put his training here to good use in the Alps becoming the first man to climb the Weisshorn and the first to make a traverse of the Matterhorn. He was a founder of the modern sport of mountaineering and wrote what is arguably the first modern mountaineering book ‘Mountaineering in 1861’. Tyndall died in Hindhead, Surrey.