The life and science of Léon Foucault : the man who proved the earth rotates /
William Tobin.
Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2003.
xiv, 338 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 26 cm.
More Details
Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2003.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [311]-332) and index.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2004-06-01:
Tobin (Univ. of Canterbury, New Zealand) has prepared this handsomely illustrated, thoroughly researched biography of Foucault, who, in addition to inventing the pendulum bearing his name and proving that the earth rotates, was a photographer whose scientific contributions were as much devoted to optics, measuring the speed of light, perfecting telescopes, and estimating the size of the solar system. How these interests are related to his work with pendulums and gyroscopes and how they contributed to his realization that a suitably constructed pendulum (which drew large public crowds to the Pantheon in Paris, where it was first exhibited) could be used to demonstrate the actual rotation of the earth are all clearly explained. Foucault's pendulum was reconstructed and shown to fascinated audiences in cities around the world, as the author recounts, along with full biographical details of Foucault's life and scientific career. Twenty-four color plates further enhance this very readable account of Foucault and the significance of his many contributions to 19th-century science. Tobin, in writing this book, wanted to provide a detailed account of the origins of modern physics, especially of astrophysics; he has succeeded admirably. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels. J. W. Dauben CUNY Herbert H. Lehman College
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Choice, June 2004
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Table of Contents
Early years
The metallic eye: photography
The 'delicious pastime' applied to science
The beautiful science of optics
Order, precision and clarity: reporter for the Journal des Debats
Mixed luck
The speed of light I: disproof of the corpuscular theory
The rotation of the earth: pendulum and gyroscope
Biding time
The observatory physicist
Perfecting the telescope
The speed of light II: the size of the solar system
Control: the quest for fortune
Unfinished projects
Colour plates
Maps and chronology
Extracts from the Journal des Debats
Photographs and instruments
Building a Foucault pendulum
Notes and references
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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