© 2017 Roland Jackson

17 May 2019

160 years ago, on 18 May 1859, the Irish physicist John Tyndall wrote in his journal ‘the subject is completely in my hands’. This is no cryptic note. Just nine days earlier he had set up his complex and clever new apparatus at the Royal Institution in London to try to...

17 Dec 2018


Elton Hall, home of the Proby family since 1660, lies in the Cambridgeshire countryside about 8 miles from Peterborough. It is regularly open to the public today.

In the 1870s, when  John Tyndall came to know it, the house was owned by William Proby, 5th Earl of Carysf...

12 Sep 2018

John Tyndall (c. 1822-1893) and John Ruskin (1819-1900), of similar ages, were both good friends and admirers of the older Thomas Carlyle, but they did not get on with each other. Ruskin, artist and environmental visionary, did not appreciate that Tyndall’s rational sc...

19 May 2018

Who knew what about Eunice Foote’s 1856 discovery of the absorption of heat by carbon dioxide and water vapour?

UPDATE 13 February 2019: my paper giving a more extensive and updated analysis of this episode has just been published online by the Royal Society's Note...

16 Apr 2018

Johann Josef Benet (1824–64), who John Tyndall called ‘Bennen’, was Tyndall’s favourite Alpine guide. Edward Whymper, the first ascentionist of the Matterhorn, described him as ‘a good-looking man, with courteous, gentlemanly manners, skilful and bold’. Tyndall gave a...

21 Mar 2018

Roland Jackson writes about how The Ascent of John Tyndall was conceived

8 Mar 2018

Juliet Pollock has become one of my favourite women.

John Tyndall admired her enormously, and wrote dozens of letters to her. He sent her poems too. He was more than half in love with more than one of his married female friends, not that anything improper is remotely li...

11 Feb 2018

Surely no-one can look up at the Matterhorn from Zermatt, an iconic image blazoned across Swiss advertising, without wanting to stand on top?

Fresh from his fifth ascent of Everest, Victor Saunders had undertaken to shepherd me up and down the mountain. Our original int...

22 Jan 2018

In the early nineteenth century, no-one who had not studied the works of William Paley could consider themselves to have had a proper education.

William Paley (1743–1805), was educated at Christ’s College, Cambridge, becoming a Fellow in 1766 and entering the Anglican p...

5 Jan 2018

A dispute over water vapour

John Tyndall (c.1822–1893), Irish physicist, mountaineer, and public intellectual, is best known in scientific circles for his work on the absorption of heat by gases such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (and for explaining why the sky is...

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Welcome to this blog of snippets about Tyndall, and occasional other subjects

John Tyndall by George Richmond

Courtesy of The Royal Institution of Great Britain

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