Naturalist Christian Huygens was born in the Netherlands in 1629 in a warlike century. The writings he left behind fill a complete 22-volume edition. However, his name is known only to a few today.
British chemist and science writer Hugh Aldersey-Williams explains in an extensive biography why we should remember him.
fully educated man
Christian Huygens was a well-educated man who came from a diplomatic family. His father was secretary to two Dutch rulers, spoke six languages, promoted Rembrandt, got to know Descartes and created a cosmopolitan environment for his children.
Hugh Aldrisi Williams describes Christian Huygens in his somewhat correlative book as one of the first professional scientists to trust comprehensible experiments more than idealistic ideas of nature.
During his life he was so highly regarded that, as a foreigner, he was appointed the first unofficial director of the newly founded Académie des Sciences in Paris. In a natural exchange with his colleagues from half of Europe, he advocated open scientific communication, devoid of patriotic vanity.
Aldersey-Williams convincingly portrays him as the kind of scholar who can still be considered picture perfect today.
Wave theory about the nature of light
The scientific achievements of Christiaan Huygens will be enough for the lives of two researchers. He dealt with astronomy, optics, mathematics and music and made the most accurate pendulum clocks of his generation.
He was the first to describe the strange “knobs” on either side of Saturn as a ring around the planet and discovered his first moon using a self-made telescope. He wrote an introduction to calculating probability, explained the centrifugal force and measured the value of acceleration due to gravity. He developed a coherent wave theory about the nature of light.
The strength of the book lies in the accurate narration
Hugh Aldorsey Williams paints the portrait of a highly respected man whose obituary suffered from rising star Isaac Newton, who was 13 years his junior. His major work “Principia Mathematica” outweighed other scientific merits for two centuries from 1688, even if z. His “particle theory” of light had less explanatory power than Huygens’s.
The strength of Aldersey-Williams’ book lies less in the scenes than in the detailed narration. Sometimes his work is a little erratic, but always thoughtful, opening a glimpse into the changing times between the religious wars and the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment. His characterization of Huygens as a great and unbiased European thinker remains typical today.
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