This book provides a thoughtful account of the lives of more than a dozen of the most important scientists of the ancient world, and the modern era, up to the end of the 19th century. The author has 'taken all possible care to state only facts that are reliable, and, whenever possible, to dispel popular errors that have arisen' in the retelling of the lives of these scientists who include Roger Bacon, Galileo, Newton, Franklin, Copernicus, Priestly, Dalton, Herschel and many others. Especially interesting is his account of many of the ancient scientists from Pythagoras to Ptolemy.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AND HIS SON EXPERIMENTING WITH LIGHTNING.
The biographies of great Scientists are of necessity filled with a multitude of detail, much of which is of little or no interest to the general reader; hence the author of the present volume has endeavoured to give a description of the lives of some of the most outstanding men of Science in an easy and readable form. It is not claimed that this is the first work of such a character, but, so far as the author knows, it is the first to deal with the subject in a comprehensive manner, linking the Ancient to the Modern. In order to make the story as readable as possible, it has been deemed better to avoid a constant reference to the dates at which the different events have occurred in the men's lives, and to state rather the ages of the men at such times. The date of birth and death of each Hero is, however, mentioned in the text, and also beneath the respective chapter headings.
The author fully realises the serious disadvantage in acquiring incorrect information, especially in one's youth, so he has taken all possible care to state only facts that are reliable, and, whenever possible, to dispel popular errors that have arisen. It has not been considered sufficient merely to retell a tale in popular language, but it has been a matter of conscience to authenticate all the information so far as that is possible. This necessarily has entailed research work, which might seem to some writers unnecessary labour for a popular volume such as the present one, but in the past the author has felt amply rewarded by his works of a similar nature being recognised as conscientious productions. There have been criticisms such as "It is easy to see that the author has not taken for granted accounts, usually abounding in errors, which less conscientious writers have given." In the present volume there has been no sacrifice of accuracy for the sake of sensation or effect.
The author is once more indebted to his friends Professor James Muir, D.SC., M.A., Royal Technical College, Glasgow, and H. Stanley Allen, M.A., D.SC.,King's College, London, for very kindly reading through the whole of the proof-sheets; also to Professor Sampson, Astronomer Royal for Scotland, for reading the chapters relating to William and Caroline Herschel; and to Emeritus Professor John G. McKendrick for his kindly interest in the proof-sheets.
The author is indebted also to the following friends for assistance with the illustrations: Professor James Muir, Glasgow; the Wolf Safety Lamp Co., Ltd., Leeds; the Electric Co., Ltd., London; the Westinghouse Co., Ltd.; Siemens Bros., Ltd.; the Poulsen Co., Ltd.