Acceptance of Augustin Fresnel's wave theory of light posed numerous questions for early nineteenth-century physicists. Among the most pressing was the problem of the properties of the luminiferous ether. Fresnel had shown that light waves were transverse. Therefore, since, among ordinary materials, only solids support transverse vibrations, there existed striking likenesses between highly tangible solids and the highly intangible ether. Accordingly, such men as Augustin-Louis Cauchy, James MacCullagh, Franz Neumann, and George Green constructed various theories of an elastic-solid ether.1 At (...) the same time, however, the disconcerting implausibilities of an all-pervasive solid provoked considerable apprehension in regard to the elastic-solid tradition. Thomas Young found the concept ‘perfectly appalling’ and argued that ‘the hypothesis [that fluids can support transverse vibrations] remains completely open for discussion, notwithstanding the apparent difficulties attending it.’2 John Herschel, probably the most important English advocate of the wave theory, regarded the concept of a solid ether as only a temporary device, useful ‘till the real truth shall be discovered.’3 Consequently, despite the accomplishments which helped to make the elastic-solid theory ‘the most celebrated special form of the wave theory’,4 there were important voices of reservation. (shrink)
A guide for scientists who would like to contribute to the professional development of science teachers for elementary schools. Based on information from over 180 programs, describes what activities work and why, and suggests how to identify programs teachers have found to be effective and take the initial steps to become involved. Also provides vignettes illustrating the daily work of science teachers. Annotation copyright by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR.
The chapter focusses on the Scottish natural philosophy of the late eighteenth century represented by John Anderson (1726–1796) and John Robison (1739–1805), which is considered a link between Newton’s natural philosophy and nineteenth-century physics in Britain (Kelvin and Maxwell). Anderson and Robison have to be seen in a tradition of Scottish Newtonians established in the seventeenth century by David Gregory and John Keill and specifically shaped in the Mid-eighteenth century through the chemical-physical work of Joseph Black and the common-sense philosophy (...) of Thomas Reid. These latter Newtonians built on Newton’s theory of matter and short-range forces as indicated in Query 31 of his Opticks (Black) but also on his Rules of Reasoning of the second edition of his Principia (Black and Reid) and in this way created the theoretical framework in which Anderson and Robison developed their natural philosophy. In the center of their natural philosophy, which was oriented on experimental investigations, were the manifold open questions of the Baconian sciences of that time - theories of heat, light, electricity, magnetism as well as the understanding of the phlogiston. The chapter thus provides insight into the specific way in which the Newtonian camp participated in early modern natural philosophical speculations about minute particles of matter, fluids, or the propagation of light and heat. (shrink)
Though P. G. Tait was in a seemingly perfect position to teach both William Thomson's thermodynamics and James Clerk Maxwell's electromagnetic theory of light, he did not. Tait probably first encountered the new thermodynamics in the 1850s at Queen's College, Belfast, and presented the ideas in his inaugural lecture at Edinburgh in 1860, soon making energy theory the centre-piece of his course there. The comprehensiveness of energy theory plus Thomson's opposition to Maxwell's electromagnetic theory evidently combined in causing Tait to (...) de-emphasize Maxwell's theory. Ironically, Tait, the loyal Scot, thus inadvertently contributed to what might be termed the Anglicization of Scottish natural philosophy. (shrink)