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CHAPTER I. THE ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY. Early Astronomical Observations—The Observatory of Tycho Brahe—The Pupil of the Eye—Vision of Faint Objects—The Telescope—The Object-Glass—Advantages of Large Telescopes—The Equatorial—The Observatory—The Power of a Telescope—Reflecting Telescopes—Lord Rosse's Great Reflector at Parsonstown—How the mighty Telescope is... more...

Biographical Sketch of Nikola Tesla.   While a large portion of the European family has been surging westward during the last three or four hundred years, settling the vast continents of America, another, but smaller, portion has been doing frontier work in the Old World, protecting the rear by beating back the "unspeakable Turk" and reclaiming gradually the fair lands that endure the curse of Mohammedan rule. For a long time the Slav... more...

PREFACE A collection of about 2000 questions asked by children forms the foundation on which this book is built. Rather than decide what it is that children ought to know, or what knowledge could best be fitted into some educational theory, an attempt was made to find out what children want to know. The obvious way to discover this was to let them ask questions. The questions collected were asked by several hundred children in the upper... more...

CHAPTER I. BACTERIA AS PLANTS. During the last fifteen years the subject of bacteriology [Footnote: The term microbe is simply a word which has been coined to include all of the microscopic plants commonly included under the terms bacteria and yeasts.] has developed with a marvellous rapidity. At the beginning of the ninth decade of the century bacteria were scarcely heard of outside of scientific circles, and very little was known about them... more...

NATURAL HISTORY is the name familiarly applied to the study of the properties of such natural bodies as minerals, plants, and animals; the sciences which embody the knowledge man has acquired upon these subjects are commonly termed Natural Sciences, in contradistinction to other so-called "physical" sciences; and those who devote themselves especially to the pursuit of such sciences have been and are commonly termed "Naturalists." Linnaeus was a... more...


CHAPTER I ON RAYS PROPAGATED IN STRAIGHT LINES   s happens in all the sciences in which Geometry is applied to matter, the demonstrations concerning Optics are founded on truths drawn from experience. Such are that the rays of light are propagated in straight lines; that the angles of reflexion and of incidence are equal; and that in refraction the ray is bent according to the law of sines, now so well known, and which is no less certain... more...

ASTROLOGY. Signs and planets, in aspects sextile, quartile, trine, conjoined, or opposite; houses of heaven, with their cusps, hours, and minutes; Almuten, Almochoden, Anahibazon, Catahibazon; a thousand terms of equal sound and significance.—Guy Mannering. ... Come and see! trust thine own eyes.A fearful sign stands in the house of life,An enemy: a fiend lurks close behindThe radiance of thy planet—oh! be warned!—Coleridge.... more...

THE EVOLUTION OF PHYSICS The now numerous public which tries with some success to keep abreast of the movement in science, from seeing its mental habits every day upset, and from occasionally witnessing unexpected discoveries that produce a more lively sensation from their reaction on social life, is led to suppose that we live in a really exceptional epoch, scored by profound crises and illustrated by extraordinary discoveries, whose... more...

INTRODUCTION We know, both by tradition and published records, that from the earliest times the faint grey and light spots which diversify the face of our satellite excited the wonder and stimulated the curiosity of mankind, giving rise to suppositions more or less crude and erroneous as to their actual nature and significance. It is true that Anaxagoras, five centuries before our era, and probably other philosophers preceding him,... more...

INTRODUCTION. When on board H.M.S. 'Beagle,' as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of that continent. These facts seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species—that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of our greatest philosophers. On my return home, it occurred to me, in... more...