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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...

A FOREWORD Before my window lies an enchanting landscape. It embraces a stretch of open rolling country, beautiful as the eye could wish to rest upon. The sun with its slanting rays is not giving it heat enough in these winter months to make it blossom in its radiant beauty, but the mind goes easily back through the few brown months to the time when the field not far away was waving with its rich yellow grain so soon to be food for those who... more...

In the year 1884 I was invited to give tuition by correspondence, in Biology. Although disposed at the time to ridicule the idea of imparting instruction in natural science by letter, I gladly accepted the opportunity thus afforded me of ascertaining for myself what could and could not be accomplished in that direction. Anyone familiar with the scope of biological enquiry, and the methods of biological instruction, will not need to be reminded... 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...

Hoffman, in one of his observations, gives the history of a powder called magnesia alba, which had long been used and esteemed as a mild and tasteless purgative; but the method of preparing it was not generally known before he made it public. It was originally obtained from a liquor called the mother of nitre, which is produced in the following manner: Salt-petre is separated from the brine which first affords it, or from the water with which... more...


WHAT IS DARWINISM? This is a question which needs an answer. Great confusion and diversity of opinion prevail as to the real views of the man whose writings have agitated the whole world, scientific and religious. If a man says he is a Darwinian, many understand him to avow himself virtually an atheist; while another understands him as saying that he adopts some harmless form of the doctrine of evolution. This is a great evil. It is obviously... more...

PREFACE The contents of this book were originally delivered at Trinity College in the autumn of 1919 as the inaugural course of Tarner lectures. The Tarner lectureship is an occasional office founded by the liberality of Mr Edward Tarner. The duty of each of the successive holders of the post will be to deliver a course on ‘the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Relations or Want of Relations between the different Departments of... more...

CHAPTER I THE EARTH It is a curious fact that when we are used to things, we often do not notice them, and things which we do every day cease to attract our attention. We find an instance of this in the curious change that comes over objects the further they are removed from us. They grow smaller and smaller, so that at a distance a grown-up person looks no larger than a doll; and a short stick planted in the ground only a few feet away appears... more...

THE CHEMICAL HISTORY OF A CANDLE LECTURE I. A CANDLE: THE FLAME—ITS SOURCES—STRUCTURE—MOBILITY—BRIGHTNESS. I purpose, in return for the honour you do us by coming to see what are our proceedings here, to bring before you, in the course of these lectures, the Chemical History of a Candle. I have taken this subject on a former occasion; and were it left to my own will, I should prefer to repeat it almost every... 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...