John Tyndall, Irish physicist, 6 April 1872.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Chromolithograph taken from Vanity Fair, entitled 'The Scientific use of the Imagination'. Profesor Tyndall (1820-1893) was a surveyor and civil engineer in Ireland. After a brief period as a schoolmaster he left to study sciences in Berlin, Germany. In the 1850s he began his pioneering studies on glacier formation, also becoming the first man to climb the Weishorn in 1856. In 1859 he began his research on heat radiation, followed by the acoustic properties of the atmosphere and the blue colour of the sky. His research resulted in the discovery of the 'Tyndall Effect', whereby a beam of light is made visible by the scattering of light by fine particles in the air and in liquids. A talented lecturer and prolific writer on scientific subjects, he died from accidental poisoning with chloral in 1893.