Tyndall, John

John Tyndall FRS (1820-1893)

John Tyndall was born in Leighlinbridge, County Carlow in 1820. He obtained his Ph.D. at Marburg University in Germany where he studied chemistry under Robert Bunsen. In 1853 he was offered the chair in Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institution in London and succeeded Michael Faraday as its Director in 1867.

Tyndall was the first to explain why the sky is blue. It is due to the different wavelengths of light being scattered by different degrees by the atmosphere. Tyndall was one of the first people to adopt the term physicist rather than the term natural philosopher. Many scientific phenomena are called after him including the Tyndall effect, Tyndallisation and Tyndall scattering. He was one of the founders of the journal Nature in 1869.

Tyndall was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1852 and was President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1874.

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