John Tyndall was born
in Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow on 2nd August 1820. During
the course of his life, this very intelligent poet-scientist was
to invent practical items such as a safe miners' lamp, a powerful
lighthouse beacon and the first practical gas mask -
therefore being responsible for saving the lives of many
thousands of miners, sailors and common labourers. In
France, Pasteuration is called Tyndallization, for it was John
Tyndall who apparently first discovered the process of killing
bacteria in milk, Louis Pasteur merely passed along
Tyndall's discovery to mankind.
- John Tyndall birth place in
Per article in "Ireland
of the Welcomes," Tyndall could be called a brilliant but
"invisible scientist" whose theories and
accomplishments were often attributed to others. John
Tyndall also described the action of the fungus penicillin on
bacteria over a century before Sir Alexander Fleming re-discovered
the antibiotic. Tyndall was also a master mountaineer, and
was the first person to climb several peaks in the Alps. He
reached to within a few hundred feet of the top of the famed
Matterhorn the year before Whymper succeeded in the difficult
Tyndall was directly
descended from a group of Gloucestershire farmers who crossed the
Irish Sea in the 17th century. His parents, although
apparently well educated, were poor. His mother was
disinherited for marrying against her father's wishes. His
father was a sergeant in the Royal Irish Constabulary, and an
Orangeman by inclination, although the senior Tyndall most
certainly was not a religious bigot. He did, in fact, send
his son John to school under the tutelage of a Catholic who can
be best described as a hedge schoolmaster. It was a pay
school, a luxury that John Tyndall senior could ill afford.
Master Conwill was known over the entire countryside for his
scholarship and teaching ability. He imparted to his
students a basic foundation in English and mathematics as well as
surveying, the latter being indispensable for young John whose
interests were to lead him into the physical sciences.
John studied under Conwill until his 17th birthday, a far older
age than most country lads. In retrospect, it seems that
Tyndall was more than likely an assistant schoolmaster during his
latter two years at Ballinbranagh schoolhouse.
Tyndall joined the
Ordnance Survey as a Civil Servant on 01 April 1839. For a
short time he surveyed in Co Carlow close to his home, but in
1840 he was transferred to Youghal in Co. Cork. In 1842
he was transferred by the Ordnance Survey to Preston in England.
He never returned to Ireland expect for short visits home.
In Preston he joined the Chartist labour movement led by
immigrants from Ireland. His articles in the "Liverpool
Mercury" were outspoken and exposed the injustices to the
lower working classes, Irish and English alike. Since the
Civil Service could ill afford to be politicised by his strong
position concerning labour he was fired and returned to Carlow to
rethink his future.
Since the Tyndall's were
Quakers it should be no surprise that the brilliant young scholar
joined the staff of Queenswood College, a progressive Quaker
school in Hampshire, England. Here Tyndall and his closest
friend, the chemist, Edward Frankland, built the first practical
science laboratory in England. In 1848 he left Queenswood
to work on a Ph.D. at
Marburg University in Germany, and
completed a mathematical dissertation in only two years.
While there he came under the influence of the German chemist
Robert Bunsen who invented the famous Bunsen burner, even today a
basic instrument of every chemistry laboratory.
By June 1851, Tyndall
had returned to England and made many influential scientific
friends. He was nonetheless defeated in attempts to gain a
lectureship at Cork and Galway Universities. Had he
succeeded he might have spent the remainder of his life in his
native land. As fate would have it he was chosen to present
a lecture at the Royal Institute (The Royal Society). His
lectureship was recommended by a committee of which Michael
Faraday, the great electrical scientist, was a prominent member.
Tyndall's outstanding lecture so impressed Faraday and others
that he was shortly afterwards elected Professor of Natural
Philosophy at the great institute. Faraday and Tyndall were
to remain admiring co-workers and friends for the rest of
Faraday's life. When his friend died, John Tyndall
succeeded him as Secretary of the Royal Institute. The rest
of Tyndall's life was spent managing and conducting experiments
and writing first-class poetry. Importantly, John invented
the first infra-red spectrophotometer.
In 1884, Dec 22: Professor John Tyndall and his wife
spent first night in their new house - first house on Hindhead. 'Hindhead House'
is still there, now converted to flats, at the rear of Tyndall's estate.
John Tyndall - died December 4, 1893, Hindhead,
Tyndall. Xemplar of Scientific & Technological Education", by N.D. McMillan
and J. Meehan. Published by ETA Publications, Dublin, Ireland (1980.
On the back cover the following is noted:
- “Few people today know much about the career of John Tyndall who,
starting with no special advantages, achieved in popular esteem a high
position as a scientist. This success came largely from his great gifts as
a lecturer who could explain scientific ideas in an attractive way to
audiences who had little or no contact with science.
- 'Impressive demonstration experiments played a central part in
these lectures and so he maintained and possibly enhanced the tradition
established by his illustrious predecessors at the Royal Institution of
Great Britain, namely, Thomas Young, Sir Humphrey Davy, and Michael
Faraday. His influence contributed much towards getting science
recognised as an important part of a good general education and towards
getting student practical work recognised as important in the teaching
of science. His best original work was on the motion of glaciers, the
transmission of radiant heat through matter and the scattering of light.
- The many references to the sources of their information given by
the authors will be valuable to any reader wishing to acquire more
details about particular points. I am happy to recommend the book with
much confidence to all interested in the history of science and the
lives of scientists. “
- 26 January 1980. E.T.S. WALTON (1951 Winner of the Nobel
Prize for Physics)
Source: Carloman Mar 2007
Wikipedia, the free
encyclopaedia - Tyndall
Source: John Tyndall, Co. Carlow, IR & England,
"The Invisible Scientist" - (Conwill, Whymper, Faraday,
Thanks to "Jean Rice" email@example.com
- at the
- Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment
and University College Cork (UCC)