John Tyndall's Essays on the Floating- Matter of the Air In Relation to Putrefaction and Infection (1881)

John Tyndall
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This work first appeared in book form in 1881; a second edition came out in 1883. One of his later works, the book is characteristic in the clarity of its explanations. It puts readers in the company of great scientists, among them Theodor Schwann, Louis Pasteur, and Joseph Lister, and places us at a time of scientific breakthroughs of major importance, when germ theory was taking hold. As Tyndall writes in his Introduction, "It is interesting, and indeed pathetic, to observe how long a discovery of priceless value to humanity may be hidden away, or rather lie openly revealed, before the final and apparently obvious step is taken towards its practical application."

An Englishman, Tyndall lectured in the United States in the winter of 1872-1873. Rather than accepting payment, he allocated the proceeds of his talks to a fund for the encouragement of science education in United States, evidence of the statement that his "single-hearted devotion to science and indifference to worldly advantages were but one manifestation of a noble and generous nature. A resolute will and lofty, always pointing to a high ideal, were in him associated with great tenderness and consideration for others."


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