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Proceedings Paper

Optics, evolution, and myopia
Author(s): Norman D. McMillan; Ivan Slade
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Paper Abstract

Darwin's seminal work 'Origin of Species' immediately attracted the 19th Century scholar John Tyndall. Darwin's book was, and is, a hypothetical and metaphysical treatise but it has great explanatory power. The cryptically named 'X Club'-9 members, including Tyndall-was formed to defend Darwin's outrageous ideas. Tyndall's responsibilities within this X-Club were to support Darwin's theory through experimental studies in solar physics and chemistry. Research was, of course, directed at understanding the physical basis of life on earth. The studies founded modern meteorological sciences, nephelometry and bacteriology (pace, Pasteur). This current essay details some of the historical background of Tyndall's work in natural philosophy; allowing the value of Tyndall's work to be assessed more objectively. Also it evaluates their respective contributions to the founding of this different way of looking at the world. The work of Tyndall at the 1868 Norwich 'British Association for the Advancement of Science' (BAAS) Meeting and the later internationally explosive 1874 Belfast BAAS meeting are examined in the light of his research. Some amplification of Tyndall's works both philosophically and historically is attempted.

Paper Details

Date Published: 8 June 2005
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 5827, Opto-Ireland 2005: Photonic Engineering, (8 June 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.611452
Show Author Affiliations
Norman D. McMillan, Institute of Technology Carlow (Ireland)
Ivan Slade, Lancaster Univ. (United Kingdom)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5827:
Opto-Ireland 2005: Photonic Engineering
Thomas J. Glynn; John T. Sheridan; Brian W. Bowe; Ronan F. O'Dowd; Gerard M. O'Connor; Aidan J.H. Flanagan; Gerard D. O'Sullivan; Gerald Byrne; Jonathan Magee, Editor(s)

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