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THE WORLD OF COLD AND DARKNESS I date my birth into the world of sweetness and light on one frosty morning in January, 1857, when I took my seat between two well-known mathematicians, before a blazing fire in the office of the "Nautical Almanac" at Cambridge, Mass. I had come on from Washington, armed with letters from Professor Henry and Mr. Hilgard, to seek a trial as an astronomical computer. The men beside me were Professor Joseph Winlock,... more...

CHAPTER I. Peculiar interest attached to his Life—His Birth—His early studies—His passion for Mathematics—His work on the Hydrostatic Balance—Appointed Lecturer on Mathematics at Pisa—His antipathy to the Philosophy of Aristotle—His contentions with the Aristotelians—Chosen professor of Mathematics in Padua—Adopts the Copernican system, but still teaches the Ptolemaic doctrine—His... more...

Chapter 1. Parentage: introduction to the royal institution: earliestexperiments: first royal society paper: marriage. It has been thought desirable to give you and the world some image of MICHAEL FARADAY, as a scientific investigator and discoverer. The attempt to respond to this desire has been to me a labour of difficulty, if also a labour of love. For however well acquainted I may be with the researches and discoveries of that great... more...

Gentlemen,—The learned man, illustrious in so many ways, whose life I am going to relate, was taken from France half a century ago. I hasten to make this remark, so as thoroughly to show that I have selected this subject without being deterred by complaints which I look upon as unjust and inapplicable. The glory of the members of the early Academy of Sciences is an inheritance for the present Academy. We must cherish it as we would the... more...

CHAPTER I. EARLY YEARS; 1738-1772. Of the great modern philosophers, that one of whom least is known, is William Herschel. We may appropriate the words which escaped him when the barren region of the sky near the body of Scorpio was passing slowly through the field of his great reflector, during one of his sweeps, to express our own sense of absence of light and knowledge: Hier ist wahrhaftig ein Loch im Himmel. Herschel prepared, about the... more...


PRIESTLEY IN AMERICA There lies before the writer a tube of glass, eleven and one half inches in length and a quarter of an inch in diameter. Its walls are thin. At one end there is evidence that an effort was made to bend this tube in the flame. Ordinarily it would be tossed aside; but this particular tube was given the writer years ago by a great-grandson of Joseph Priestley. Attached to the tube is a bit of paper upon which appear the words... more...

LETTER 378. J.D. HOOKER TO CHARLES DARWIN. Kew, January 20th, 1867. Prof. Miquel, of Utrecht, begs me to ask you for your carte, and offers his in return. I grieve to bother you on such a subject. I am sick and tired of this carte correspondence. I cannot conceive what Humboldt's Pyrenean violet is: no such is mentioned in Webb, and no alpine one at all. I am sorry I forgot to mention the stronger African affinity of the eastern Canary Islands.... more...

PREFACE The "Life and Letters of Charles Darwin" was published in 1887. Since that date, through the kindness of various correspondents, additional letters have been received; among them may be mentioned those written by Mr. Darwin to Mr. Belt, Lady Derby, Hugh Falconer, Mr. Francis Galton, Huxley, Lyell, Mr. John Morley, Max Muller, Owen, Lord Playfair, John Scott, Thwaites, Sir William Turner, John Jenner Weir. But the material for our work... more...

SIR ISAAC NEWTON   n honest farmer, neither rich nor poor, was Isaac Newton. He was married to Harriet Ayscough in February, Sixteen Hundred Forty-two. Both were strong, intelligent and full of hope. Neither had any education to speak of; they belonged to England's middle class—that oft-despised and much ridiculed middle class which is the hope of the world. Accounts still in existence show that their income was thirty pounds a... more...

CHAPTER I EARLY DAYS AT KIRKCALDY 1723-1737   Adam Smith was born at Kirkcaldy, in the county of Fife, Scotland, on the 5th of June 1723. He was the son of Adam Smith, Writer to the Signet, Judge Advocate for Scotland and Comptroller of the Customs in the Kirkcaldy district, by Margaret, daughter of John Douglas of Strathendry, a considerable landed proprietor in the same county. Of his father little is known. He was a native of... more...