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(1) Britain's Heritage of Science (2) A Short History of Science

Nature volume 101, pages 161162 (02 May 1918) | Download Citation



(1) The main purpose of the first of these two historical books is to give a plain account of Britain's, great heritage of science: “an heritage that—handed down through several centuries of distinguished achievements—will, if the signs speak true, be passed on to the coming, age with untarnished brilliancy.” It is a legacy to be proud of and to use. Prof. Schuster starts off with a fine chapter on the ten landmarks of physical science associated with the names of Roger Bacon, Gilbert, Napier, Newton, Dalton, Young, Faraday, Joule, William Thomson, and Clerk Maxwell. Then follows a sketch of physical science in the universities during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the achievements of men like Halley and Hooke, Bradley and Black. The non-academic succession is illustrated by the work of Boyle, Cavendish, Priestley, Herschel, and Watt. Through Rumford and Davy and George Green the author passes to the golden age of mathematics and physics at Cambridge associated with the names of Stokes and Adams, Sylvester and Cayley. His survey broadens out to include the work of Thomson and Tait, Rankine and Fitzgerald, and other illustrious physicists of the nineteenth century. Thus the author deals with such investigators as Graham, Joule, Balfour Stewart, Reynolds, Sorby, Crookes, Rayleigh, George Darwin, Ramsay, Rutherford, Airy, John Herschel, Adams, and Gill, and the distinguished roll fitly ends with Henry Moseley, whose career of singular promise was cut short in 1915 by a Turkish bullet. The next chapters illustrate the function of scientific institutions, such as the Royal Society, and “the effects of pure scientific research on that complex organisation of the community which usually goes by the name of civilisation.”

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