AT short notice it was not to be expected that I could pro duce a lecture which should commend itself to the Asso ciation by its novelty or originality. But in science there are things of greater value than even these—namely definiteness anc accuracy. In fact without them there could not be any scieno except the very peculiar smattering which is usually (but I hope erroneously) called “popular.” It is vain to expect that more than the elements of science can ever be made in the true sense of the word popular; but it is the people's right to demand of thei teachers that the information given them shall be at least definit and accurate, so far as it goes. And as I think that a teacher of science cannot do a greater wrong to his audience than to mystif or confuse them about fundamental principles, so I conceive tha wherever there appears to to be such confusion it is the duty of a scientific man to endeavour by all means in his power to remove it. Recent criticisms of works in which I have had a least a share, have shown me that, even among the particularly well-educated class who write for the higher literary and scientific ournals, there is wide-spread ignorance as to some of the most mportant elementary principles of physics. I have therefore hosen, as the subject of my lecture to-night, a very elementary but much abused and misunderstood term, which meets us at very turn in our study of natural philosophy.
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European Journal of Physics (2006)