FULL VOLUME 1st EDITION OF THE 1st QUANTIFICATION & DEMONSTRATION THAT ATMOSPHERIC GASES ARE INFRARED EMITTERS – that they emit heat. What Tyndall discovered is "the first accurate account of how the atmosphere functions" (Kolbert, Field Notes, 35). Before this, many believed that something like what we now call the Greenhouse Effect existed, but in this paper Tyndall was the first to demonstrate, quantify, and prove it. The original plate depicting Tyndall's equipment is also present, along with 35 other copperplate engravings.
John Tyndall was a prominent 19th century British physicist and also a mountaineer. "While… in the Alps, he studied glaciers… He became convinced that tens of thousands of years ago, all of northern Europe was covered by ice. For this theory to be true, Tyndall was forced to explain how the climate could warm dramatically enough to make so much ice disappear. Tyndall set up laboratory experiments to measure the amount of heat absorbed by various greenhouse gases and was the first scientist to measure the greenhouse effect" (Nuccitelli, Climatology), 3).
Toward this end "in 1852, Tyndall developed the 1st "ratio spectrophotometer" and used it to test the heat absorption of gases (History of Physics: The Wenner Collection). The instrument used thermopile technology and its invention alone is considered seminal in the study of the history of the spectrographic study of the absorption of gases. Tyndall believed that he could explain heat within the Earth's atmosphere by using his spectrophotometer to study the capacities of some atmospheric gases to absorb radiant heat.
Tyndall's 1st report on the absorption of radiant energy by gases was reported to the Royal Society in 1859. In that paper, Tyndall wrote: "Different gases are thus shown to intercept radiant heat in different degrees" (Tyndall, 1859). What he did not do, however, was provide evidence - specifically, quantitative results and the names of the individual gases he was investigating.
In the offered paper, Tyndall presents his evidence. His quantitative analyses indicated that CO2, water vapor, and hydrocarbon gases, such as methane, were extremely efficient absorbers of radiant energy (this as compared with the oxygen and nitrogen that make up the bulk of the atmosphere). Tyndall showed that the emissive powers of the tested gases demonstrated a rank order that was the same as the absorptive powers of the given gases. Tyndall further demonstrated that these gases re-emit heat.
"Tyndall was quick to appreciate the implications of his discovery: the selectively transparent gases, he declared, were largely responsible for determining the planet's climate. He likened their impact to that of a dam built across a river: just as a dam 'causes a local deepening of the stream, so our atmosphere, thrown as a barrier across the terrestrial rays, produces a local heightening of the temperature at the earth's surface'" (Kolbert, 36; Tyndall, 1861). Tyndall concluded that water vapor absorbed the most radiant heat and is therefore the principal gas controlling air temperature (ibid).
ALSO INCLUDED: Rosse’s "On the Construction of Specula of Six-Feet Aperture…” pp. 681-745. Original plans for Rosse's reflecting telescope were lost to history & this paper represents the most detailed information on its construction. With this telescope he discovered the spiral nature of some of the galaxies, and published the 1st illustrations of spiral nebulae; for 70 years it remained the largest telescope in the world. Item #639
CONDITION & DETAILS: London: Taylor and Francis. Large 4to. , 7, , 839, . 36 copperplate engravings. Full volume, complete. Small ex-libris stamp on the rear of the title page & on the 1st page of the Tyndall (see image). Handsomely rebound in aged calf. 5 raised gilt bands at the spine,; gilt fleur de lis at the spine. Red and black, gilt-lettered morocco labels. Tightly bound. New endpapers. Occasional light toning. Near fine condition.