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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...

PART I THE SPECIAL THEORY OF RELATIVITY PHYSICAL MEANING OF GEOMETRICAL PROPOSITIONS In your schooldays most of you who read this book made acquaintance with the noble building of Euclid's geometry, and you remember — perhaps with more respect than love — the magnificent structure, on the lofty staircase of which you were chased about for uncounted hours by conscientious teachers. By reason of our past experience, you would... 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...

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...

CHAPTER I. STRUCTURE OF THE BACTERIA AND CONDITIONS GOVERNING THEIR DEVELOPMENT AND DISTRIBUTION. Before one can gain any intelligent conception of the manner in which bacteria affect dairying, it is first necessary to know something of the life history of these organisms in general, how they live, move and react toward their environment. Nature of Bacteria. Toadstools, smuts, rusts and mildews are known to even the casual observer, because... more...


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...

COAL AND COAL-MINES. There are few subjects of more importance, and few less known or thought about, than our coal-mines. Coal is one of our greatest blessings, and certainly one originating cause of England's greatness and wealth. It has given us a power over other nations, and vast sums of money are yearly brought to our country from abroad in exchange for the coal we send. Nearly £17,000,000 is the representative value of the coal... more...

WHY WRITTEN Fairies, fays, genii, sprites, etc., were once supposed to be helpful to some favored men. The stories about these imaginary beings have always had a fascinating interest. The most famous of these stories were told at Bagdad in the eleventh century, and were called The Arabian Nights' Entertainment. Then men were said to use all sorts of obedient powers, sorceries, tricks, and genii to aid them in getting wealth, fame, and beautiful... more...

CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTORY. The Sun. The sun's position in the great field of energy is daily becoming more exalted in the estimation of philosophic minds. His labors are being revealed to us with a distinctness never before conceived. He it is that stored the coal in the bosom of the earth, and piled up the polar ice. He it is that aids the chemist, drives the engine, ripens the harvest, dispenses life and health. The study of the sun and solar... more...

I THE BREATH OF LIFE I When for the third or fourth time during the spring or summer I take my hoe and go out and cut off the heads of the lusty burdocks that send out their broad leaves along the edge of my garden or lawn, I often ask myself, "What is this thing that is so hard to scotch here in the grass?" I decapitate it time after time and yet it forthwith gets itself another head. We call it burdock, but what is burdock, and why does it... more...