The 308 letters in this volume cover a critical period in Tyndall’s personal and scientific lives. The volume begins with the difficult ending of his relationship with the Drummond family, disputes about his work in glaciology, and his early seminal work on the absorption of radiant heat by gases. It ends with the start of his championship of Julius Robert Mayer’s work on the mechanical equivalent of heat. In between, Tyndall carefully establishes his own priority for his work on radiant heat, and he accepts the position of professor of physics at the Government School of Mines. The lure of the Alps also becomes ever stronger. In this period comes perhaps Tyndall’s greatest mountaineering achievement, the first ascent of the Weisshorn, and a remarkable winter visit to Chamonix and the Mer de Glace. As his reputation grows, Tyndall continues to make his way in society. He is elected to the elite Athenaeum Club on January 31, 1860.
Diarmid A. Finnegan is senior lecturer in human geography at Queen’s University, Belfast. He is the author of Natural History Societies and Civic Culture in Victorian Scotland and coeditor of Spaces of Global Knowledge: Exhibition, Encounter and Exchange in an Age of Empire and The Correspondence of John Tyndall, volume 7. His current research centers on the history of science and religion in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Roland Jackson is a historian of nineteenth-century science, an honorary research fellow at University College London, and a visiting fellow at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. His career has spanned scientific research, science education, science communication, science policy, and the history of science. He has been head of museum at the Science Museum London, chief executive of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and executive chair of Sciencewise, which works across the UK government on policy relating to controversial issues involving science and technology.
Nanna Katrine Lüders Kaalund is a postdoctoral research associate at Aarhus University, Denmark, where she holds a Carlsberg Fellowship for the project “Economizing Science and National Identities: The Royal Greenland Trading Department and the Making of Modern Denmark and Greenland”. She previously worked at the University of Cambridge and the University of Leeds. Her research centres on the intersection of Arctic exploration, race, print culture, science, religion, and medicine in the modern period with a focus on the British, North-American, and Danish imperial worlds.