Tyndall - pioneer of fibre optics!
Tyndall was born in the Garrison House, Leighlinbridge,
Co. Carlow and he received his early education in Carlow before
going to work for the Ordnance Survey, first in Ireland and later
in England. While he worked he attended lectures at the local Mechanics
Institute, where members of the working class could receive basic
instruction in the sciences. In 1843 he was dismissed from the survey
for protesting the working conditions of the Irish labourers. He
moved on to work as a surveyor for the railroad industry. In 1847
he became a teacher at Edmundson School, Queenwood College, in Hampshire,
where one of the first teaching laboratories in Britain was set
up. There he became interested in the teaching of practical science
Who was John Tyndall?
"John Tyndall (1820-1893) was one of the most influential scientists of the second half of the nineteenth century. The Anglo-Irish successor to Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday as Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institution (1853-1887), Tyndall was a prominent member of London scientific and social elites. His flamboyant lecturing style, honed by teaching science at private secondary schools, made him a highly sought-after public speaker both in the UK and abroad. He had a Promethean personality: as a young man he was fired as a government surveyor because he led an embarrassing campaign to reveal corruption at its highest levels; soon thereafter he resolved to study for a PhD under Robert Bunsen in Marburg despite not knowing any German..." Extract from Tyndall Correspondence Project - read full article here
1848 Tyndall went to Marburg University in Germany to carry out
his Ph.D. studies. At that time Ph.D. degrees had only just been
introduced and the German Universities were then world leaders in
scientific research training. Tyndall studied Chemistry, Mathematics
and Physics. He completed his degree in two years and went on to
do research in Berlin, where he mingled with many of the great German
scientists of that time.
returned to Britain in 1851 but was unable to find a university
position due to his unconventional education and his working class
background. Finally in 1853, after a brilliant lecturing performance
he was appointed professor of natural philosophy at the Royal Institution
in London. There he developed his talents for lecturing and research
and he took over from Michael Faraday as Superintendent in 1867. From
his time spent in Germany, Tyndall had an interest in the behaviour
of crystals in a magnetic field. This led him to study the compression
of crystal substances. From this he took an interest in glaciers
and was a pioneer in the sport of mountaineering. He also studied
solar heat and radiation. He was particularly interested in the
interaction of heat, light and atmospheric gases and he made a study
of the scattering of light by particles in the atmosphere. In fact,
it was Tyndall who first explained that the sky is blue because
the different wavelengths of sunlight are scattered to different
degrees by the atmosphere. Having established that there were dust
particles in the air, he showed that the air contained living microorganisms.
He was an early advocate of Pasteur's germ theory of disease.
scientific brilliance is highlighted by the number of scientific
phenomena named after him, including the Tyndall effect, the Tyndall
cone, Tyndall scattering, Tyndallisation and the Tyndallo-meter.
Tyndall was one of the first people to coin the term "physicist"
to differentiate himself from the traditional "natural philosopher". Tyndall made many other contributions to science. For example he invented the fireman’s respirator and his invention of the light pipe led to the development of fibre optics.
also wrote for newspapers and magazines and helped to found the
now famous scientific journal Nature in 1869. Tyndall grew famous
for both his theatrical style of lecturing and his public battle
with famous figures. Controversially, Tyndall condemned the attitude of the catholic
hierarchy in Ireland to Science and proposed that "science and reason,
rather than faith are the only acceptable guides to truth". Tyndall
spent much of his free time at his house in the Alps. Eventually
he died from an overdose of chloral hydrate (which he took for insomnia) administered in error
by his wife at the age of seventy-three! As a researcher, an educator, a lecturer and a controversialist,
he played a major role in both the professionalism and popularisation
of science. Read more about John Tyndall here and here and a blog based on his letters here
Leighlinbridge in 1824
According to PIGOT and Co.'s Provincial Directory of 1824. "LEIGHLINBRIDGE is a market and post town in the county of Carlow, is forty-five miles from Dublin, twelve from Kilkenny, and six from Carlow, on the high road to Kilkenny. The town is romantically situated on the banks of the river Barrow, over which is a neat stone bridge of nine arches. The market for corn and butter is much improving; the butter is conveyed by the river to Waterford, for the London and other markets. Among the public buildings of this place is the church, which stands on the west side of the river, and from the yard of which there is an extensive view of the country for many miles round; the windings of the river add much to the beauty of the scene. There are also two Roman Catholic chapels and an establishment for Carmelite friars. At the foot of the bridge are the remains of a very extensive castle, said to have been destroyed by Cromwell. About a mile from the town is a famous spa, much esteemed for its beneficial effects on consumptive habits. Leighlin is the sole property of Wm. R. Stewart, esq., whose hospitable and neat mansion is seated on the east side of the river; the lofty wood on his estate adds much to the beauty of the town. The market days are Monday and Saturday; a market is also held on Friday for butter. There are four fairs in the year, viz: on Easter Monday, the 14th of May, the 25th of September, and the 27th of December. The population is near 2000.
POST OFFICE - Post Mistress, Mrs. Mary Forrest. The mail to Dublin, by the Cork mail, at a quarter past ten in the evening. The mail to Cork at three in the morning. The mail to Carlow, by the Waterford mail, at half-past ten in the evening. The Thomastown, Gowran, and Bagenalstown mails are conveyed by the Waterford mail. The Kilkenny, Clonmel, and Callan mails by thy Cork Mail. Office hours from seven in the morning till eleven at night".
Borris Sheep Mart