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Nature volume 14, page 8 | Download Citation



M. DE FONVIELLE'S name is no doubt familiar to our readers as that of an experienced scientific aeronaut and writer on aeronautics. In the work before us he has traced in an interesting and instructive manner the history of ballooning from the first rude attempts to rise in the air, down to the elaborate experiments and machines which have been devised at the present day. He has evidently spent considerable pains to obtain a complete knowledge of the history and methods of ballooning, and his scientific knowledge enables him to point out in the many experiments which have been. made, the causes of failure or success. The work is evidently meant mainly for popular reading, and those who understand French will find it full of interest. The author attempts to show how practically to utilise a discovery which up to the present time has produced few practical results. He is quite opposed to all the fantastical projects which have been proposed and tried in aeronautics, and treats his subject, on the whole, in a sensible and moderate fashion, showing that those chimerical schemes have been really hindrances to the improvement of aerial navigation. He shows that important meteorological results might be obtained by properly organised ascents, and that indeed in this respect results of some importance have already been obtained. The numerous illustrations are interesting, and altogether the work may be regarded as an important contribution to the history of aëronautics.

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