A History of Science: In Five Volumes - Vol. 5

By Henry Smith Williams | Go to book overview

IV
SOME PHYSICAL LABORATORIES AND PHYSICAL PROBLEMS

SIR NORMAN LOCKYER AND SOLAR CHEMISTRY

S IR NORMAN LOCKYER is professor of astronomical physics and director of the solar observatory at the Royal College of Science in South Kensington. Here it is that his chief work has been done for some thirty years past. The foundation - stone of that work is spectroscopic study of the sun and stars. In this study Professor Lockyer was a pioneer, and he has for years been recognized as the leader. But he is no mere observer; he is a generalizer as well; and he long since evolved revolutionary ideas as to the origin of the sidereal and solar systems.

For a man whose chief occupation is the study of the sun and stars, smoky, foggy, cloudy London may seem a strange location. I asked Professor Lockyer about this, and his reply was most characteristic. "The fact is," he said, "the weather here is too fine from one point of view: my working staff is so small, and the number of working nights so large, that most of the time there is no one about to do anything during the day. Then, another thing, here at South Kensington I am in touch with my colleagues in the other departments--physics, chemistry, and so forth--and

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