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Popular Natural Philosophy

Nature volume 6, pages 471472 | Download Citation



THIS is a good elementary book, giving the first princiciples of the subjects with which it deals in a clear and concise manner, with very few unnecessary words. The work is not an abridgment of Ganot's “Elements of Physics,” but is founded on Ganot's “Cours Elémentaire de Physique,” of which it is not a mere translation; but additions and alterations have been made by Dr. Atkinson, with the view of rendering it more fit to serve the purpose for which it is designed, namely, to act as a “text-book of physics for the middle and upper classes of boys' and girls' schools, and as a familiar account of physical phenomena and laws for the general reader.” The book is very well adapted for these purposes. It is entirely free of mathematical formulae, which, though but sparsely used in Ganot's “Physics,” are still an insuperable barrier to the use of some portions of that work by the non-mathematical reader. The subjects treated of are the same as those in Ganot's “Physics,” namely—the properties of matter, hydrostatics, pneumatics, acoustics, heat, light, magnetism, and electricity. The treatment of these subjects is, however, not only more elementary but somewhat less comprehensive than in the larger book. The engravings of the instruments and of the experiments detailed are good and suggestive, and calculated to be of assistance not only to the learner but to the teacher. There is, however, a good deal of what is superfluous in a considerable number of the illustrations, and a few of the illustrations themselves are unnecessary. It is, perhaps, over-refinement of criticism to object to the superfluity of embellishment in Fig. 140, in illustration of a speaking tube. (By the way, how exceedingly small the fire is !) Fig. 139 seems quite unnecessary in explaining the experimental determination of the velocity of sound by the Bureau of Longitude of Paris.

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