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A History of Science
Henry Smith Williams 
Tome I
Tome II
Tome III Tome IV

Book III
Modern development of the physical sciences
The successors 
of Newton in astronomy
Hevelius and Halley
Bradley, the aberration of light
French astronomers
Leonard Euler

The progress 
of modern astronomy

William Herschel
The nebular hypothesis of Kant
Nebular hypothesis: Laplace
Asteroids, planets, satellites
Comets and meteors
The fixed stars
The structure of Nebulae
Lockyer's meteoric hypothesis

The new science of paleontology

William Smith and fossil shells
Cuvier and fossil vertebrates
Lyell combats catastrophism
The origin of species
Fossil man
The fossil-beds of America
Paleontology of evolution

The origin and development of modern geology

James Hutton
Modern geology
Neptunists versus plutonists
Lyell and uniformitarianism
Agassiz and the glacial theory
The geological ages
Past, present, and future

The new science of meteorology

Meteorites
The aurora borealis
Evaporation, clouds, and dew
Isotherms and ocean currents
Cyclones and anti-cyclones

Modern theories
of heat and light

Rumford and the theory of heat
Young and the theory of light
Arago and Fresnel

The modern development of electricity and magnetism

Galvani and Volta
Davy and Electric light
Electricity and magnetism
Faraday and induction
Storage batteries
Roentgen rays, or X-rays

The conservation of energy

Mayer's paper of 1842
Mayer and Helmholtz
Joule's paper of 1843
Joule or Mayer?
Kelvin: the dissipation of energy
The final unification

The ether and the ponderable matter

Williams
With the present book we enter the field of the distinctively modern. There is no precise date at which we take up each of the successive stories, but the main sweep of development has to do in each case with the nineteenth century. We shall see at once that this is a time both of rapid progress and of great differentiation. We have heard almost nothing hitherto of such sciences as paleontology, geology, and meteorology, each of which now demands full attention. Meantime, astronomy and what the workers of the elder day called natural philosophy become wonderfully diversified and present numerous phases that would have been startling enough to the star-gazers and philosophers of the earlier epoch.

Thus, for example, in the field of astronomy, Herschel is able, thanks to his perfected telescope, to discover a new planet and then to reach out into the depths of space and gain such knowledge of stars and nebulae as hitherto no one had more than dreamed of. Then, in rapid sequence, a whole coterie of hitherto unsuspected minor planets is discovered, stellar distances are measured, some members of the starry galaxy are timed in their flight, the direction of movement of the solar system itself is investigated, the spectroscope reveals the chemical composition even of suns that are unthinkably distant, and a tangible theory is grasped of the universal cycle which includes the birth and death of worlds.

Similarly the new studies of the earth's surface reveal secrets of planetary formation hitherto quite inscrutable. It becomes known that the strata of the earth's surface have been forming throughout untold ages, and that successive populations differing utterly from one another have peopled the earth in different geological epochs. The entire point of view of thoughtful men becomes changed in contemplating the history of the world in which we live - albeit the newest thought harks back to some extent to those days when the inspired thinkers of early Greece dreamed out the wonderful theories with which our earlier chapters have made our readers familiar.

In the region of natural philosophy progress is no less pronounced and no less striking. It suffices here, however, by way of anticipation, simply to name the greatest generalization of the century in physical science - the doctrine of the conservation of energy.


 

 

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© Serge Jodra, 2006. - Reproduction interdite.