A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Tyndall, John

Tyndall, John (1820-1893).—Scientific writer, b. at Leighlin Bridge, County Carlow, was in early life employed in the ordnance survey and as a railway engineer. He was next teacher of mathematics and surveying at Queenwood Coll., Hampshire, after which he went to Marburg to study science, and while there became joint author of a memoir On the Magneto-optic Properties of Crystals. After being at Berlin he returned in 1851 to Queenwood, and in 1853 was appointed Prof. of Natural Philosophy in the Royal Institution, which in 1867 he succeeded Faraday as Superintendent. With Huxley (q.v.) he made investigations into the Alpine glaciers. Thereafter he did much original work on heat, sound, and light. In addition to his discoveries T. was one of the greatest popularisers of science. His style, remarkable for lucidity and elegance, enabled him to expound such subjects with the minimum of technical terminology. Among his works are The Glaciers of the Alps (1860), Mountaineering (1861), Fragments of Science, two vols. (1871), including his address to the British Association at Belfast, which raised a storm of controversy and protest in various quarters, Hours of Exercise on the Alps, etc. T. d. from an overdose of chloral accidentally administered by his wife.