Record

Authorised form of nameTyndall; John (1820 - 1893); Natural Philosopher
SurnameTyndall
ForenamesJohn
Dates1820 - 1893
NationalityBritish
Dates and placesBirth:
Leighlin Bridge, County Carlow, Ireland (02 August 1820)
Death:
Hindhead, Surrey (04 December 1893)
ActivityResearch Field:
Natural philosophy, microbiology
Education:
PhD
Career:
Worked as a Surveyor with the Ordnance Survey in Ireland from 1839, then to northern England, being dismissed for complaints about pay and conditions in November 1843. Railway Surveyor in Manchester and Halifax 1844-1847. Joined staff of Queenswood Schook in Hampshire in August 1847. Taught at Queenwood College, Hampshire (to 1853). Went with Edward Frankland to Marburg in 1848 to study in Robert Bunsen's laboratory for a Ph.D. where he first heard of diamagnetism. In 1859, his laboratory experiments showed that water vapour and carbon dioxide absorb infra-red radiation and that they could therefore affect the climate of the Earth. As soon as his paper was published in 1861 in the 'Proceedings of the Royal Society', he put out a press release for the London newspapers explaining that this result implied that all past climate changes were now understood and all future climate changes could be predicted simply from a knowledge of the concentrations of these 'greenhouse' gases. Tyndall restricted himself to describing his experiments and simply linking it to work of Fourier a few decades earlier. It took more than a century before the credible quantitative estimates of these effects and their influence on past and possibly future climates were made, along with good enough observations of the gases to know that they have (and continue) to change significantly.

The beginning of climate science's history starts with John Tyndall, who first established the concept of a greenhouse gas. In the 1850s, Tyndall showed that certain gases, particularly carbon dioxide and water vapour, had the distinctive property of being highly transparent to visible light, but mostly opaque to the infrared.

In the Earth's atmosphere, these gases allow light to come in from the Sun, but trap heat. Tyndall understood this is a very important fact about the Earth, because without this natural greenhouse effect, the Earth would be as cold as the Moon or Mars.
Royal Society activityMembership:
Fellow
Election Date:
3/06/1852
Medals/Prizes:
Rumford Medal 1864
Lectures:
Bakerian 1855, 1861, 1864, 1881
Council:
VP 1879-1880
SourcesSources:
Bulloch's Roll; DNB; DSB
Obituaries:
Proc Roy Soc 1894 vol 55 pp xviii-xxxiv signed by E F
References:
Sir Brian Pippard, FRS, 'Schoolmaster-Fellows and the campaign for science education' in NR 2002 vol 56 pp 63-81
J W Haas, 'The Reverend Dr William Henry Dallinger, FRS (1839-1909)' in NR 2000 vol 54 pp 53-65
Maria Yamalidou, 'John Tyndall, the Rhetorician of Molecularity. Part One. Crossing the Boundary Towards the Invisible' in NR 1999 vol 53 pp 231-242, plate
Maria Yamalidou, 'John Tyndall, the Rhetorician of Molecularity. Part Two. Questions Put to Nature' in NR 1999 vol 53 pp 319-331
Roy M MacLeod, 'Of Medals and Men: A Reward System in Victorian Science 1826-1914' in NR 1971 vol 26 pp 81-105
J S Rowlinson, 'The Theory of Glaciers' in NR 1971 vol 26 pp 189-204
J T Lloyd, 'Background to the Joule-Mayer Controversy' in NR 1970 vol 25 pp 211-225, plate
Roy M MacLeod, 'The X-Club: A Social Network of Science in Late-Victorian England' in NR 1969 vol 24 pp 305-322
J S Rowlinson, 'A national treasure house. <i>'The common purposes of life': science and society at the Royal Institution of Great Britain</i> ed Frank A J L James ' in NR 2004 vol 58 pp 105-106
Vanity Fair 06 April 1872
Roland Jackson, 'John Tyndall and the Royal Medal that was never struck' in NR 2014 vol 68, no 2, pp 151-164
Royal Society codeNA8293
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
MS/377/1/157Lecture notes by John Tyndallno date
MS/769/111Letter from John Tyndall, Royal Institution, to Walter White13 November [1862 wm]
MS/769/104Letter from John Tyndall, Royal Institution, to [Walter White]3 February 1883
MS/769/115Letter from John Tyndall, Royal Institution, to Walter White21 December 1881
MS/769/106Letter from John Tyndall, Royal Institution, to Walter Whitend
EC/1852/13Tyndall, John: certificate of election to the Royal Society
MS/769/109Letter from John Tyndall, Royal Institution, to [Walter White]18 February ny
MS/769/105Letter from John Tyndall, Royal Institution, to George Gabriel Stokes6 March 1883
MS/769/110Letter from John Tyndall, Royal Institution, to George Gabriel Stokes14 March ny
MS/377/1/155Lecture notes by John Tyndallno date
MS/769/112Letter from John Tyndall, Hind Head, to [Walter White]27 November ny
MS/769/108Letter from John Tyndall, Royal Institution, to Thomas Henry Huxley15 February 1877
MS/769/113Letter from John Tyndall, Hind Head, to Walter White30 June ny
MS/769/114Letter from John Tyndall, Royal Institution, to [Walter White]6 December ny
IM/004697Tyndall, John
MM/9/20Letter from John Tyndall, Royal Institution, to RT Lewisc.1862
IM/004696Tyndall, Johnnd
MM/9/19Letter from John Tyndall, Royal Institution, to RT Lewis27 March 1862
MM/14/26'Report of the Commission appointed to consider the subject of lighting picture galleries by gas' 20 July 1859
P/0133Portrait of Tyndall, John1893-1894
IM/Maull/004689Tyndall, Johnnd
IM/004690Tyndall, Johnnd
MS/743/1/89Letter from John Tyndall, Royal Institution of Great Britain, to [John Hall] Gladstone23 June 1876
MS/743/1/182Letter from John Tyndall, Queenwood, to [John Hall] GladstoneNo date
MS/743/1/183Letter from John Tyndall, Royal Institution of Great Britain, to [John Hall] Gladstone18 November [no year]
IM/004694Tyndall, Johnnd
P/0134Portrait of Tyndall, John1877
P/0196Portrait of Tyndall, John
IM/004693Tyndall, Johnnd
NLB/4/904Copy letter from Herbert Rix, to Professor John Tyndall, Fellow of the Royal Society22 November 1890
NLB/3/1091Copy letter from Herbert Rix, to Professor John Tyndall, Fellow of the Royal Society9 January 1890
NLB/6/832Copy letter from an unknown correspondent, to Harrison & Sons20 July 1892
NLB/7/357Copy letter from Herbert Rix, to Dr John Tyndall, Fellow of the Royal Society27 January 1893
NLB/5/1092Copy letter from Herbert Rix, to Professor John Tyndall, Fellow of the Royal Society4 January 1892
NLB/8/1002Copy letter from Herbert Rix, to Monsieur Henri Taffe, 2, rue Adelaide, Nice, Alpes Maritimes, France9 February 1894
NLB/11/915Copy letter from Herbert Rix, to Mrs Tyndall, Hindhead House, Haslemere, Surrey4 November 1895
NLB/11/121Copy letter from Herbert Rix, to Herrn Professor Dr Georg W A Kahlbaum, Basel, Switzerland25 April 1895
NLB/11/989Copy letter from Herbert Rix, to Mrs Tyndall, Hindhead House, Haslemere, Surrey13 November 1895
RR/3/79Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On various phenomena of refraction through semi-lenses or prisms, producing anomalies in the illusion of stereoscopic images' by Antoine Jean Francois Claudet 30 July 1856
RR/2/249Referee's report by William Allen Miller, on a paper 'On molecular influences.—Part I. Transmission of heat through organic structures' by John Tyndall28 March 1853
RR/3/268Referee's report by William Hopkins, on a paper 'On some physical properties of ice' by John Tyndall9 March 1858
RR/3/265Referee's report by James Prescott Joule, on a paper 'Further researches on the polarity of the diamagnetic force' by John Tyndall9 February 1856
RR/4/170Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'Electro-physiological researches - Eleventh series. On the secondary electromotor power of nerves, and its application to the explanation of certain electrophysiological phenomena' by Carlo Matteucci24 October 1861
RR/3/110Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the stratifications and dark band in electrical discharges as observed in Torricellian vacua' by John Peter Gassiot25 May 1858
RR/3/267Referee's report by John Phillips, on a paper 'On the structure and motion of glaciers' by John Tyndall and Thomas Henry Huxley16 March 1857
RR/3/198Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the thermo-electric series' by Augustus Matthiessen5 March 1858
RR/3/197Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the electric-conducting power of the metals' by Augustus Matthiessen20 February 1858
RR/3/203Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the theory of internal resistance and internal friction in fluids; and on the theories of sound and of auscultation' by Robert Moon23 November 1858
RR/3/155Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'Introductory research on the induction of magnetism by electrical currents' by James Prescott Joule25 July 1855
RR/4/271Referee's report by William Thomson, Lord Kelvin on an unnamed paper by John Tyndall3 April 1862
RR/3/266Referee's report by William Thomson, Lord Kelvin on a paper 'Further researches on the polarity of the diamagnetic force' by John Tyndall20 February 1856
RR/3/269Referee's report by John Phillips, on a paper 'On some physical properties of ice' by John Tyndall19 March 1858
RR/4/181Referee's report by John Tyndall, on an appendix of the paper 'On the theory of compound colours, and the relations of the colours of the spectrum' by James Clerk Maxwell10 May 1860
RR/2/250Referee's report by Charles Wheatstone, on a paper 'On the vibrations and tones produced by the contact of bodies having different temperatures' by John Tyndall9 February 1854
RR/2/248Second referee's report by William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, on a paper 'On molecular influences.—Part I. Transmission of heat through organic structures' by John Tyndall22 March 1853
RR/4/264Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the nature of the action of fired gunpowder' by Lynall Thomas17 January 1859
RR/2/239Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the thermal effects of fluids in motion - Part II' by William Thomson, Lord Kelvin and James Prescott Joule31 October 1854
RR/3/270Referee's report by William Hopkins, on a paper 'On the physical phenomena of glaciers - Part I. Observations on the mer de glace' by John Tyndall26 October 1858
RR/2/252Referee's report by William Hallowes Miller, on the Bakerian Lecture 'On the nature of the force why which bodies are repelled from the poles of a magnet; to which is prefixed, an account of some experiments on molecular influences' by John Tyndall18 April 1855
RR/4/272Referee's report by William Thomson, Lord Kelvin on a paper 'On the absorption and radiation of heat by gaseous matter - Second memoir' by John Tyndall19 April 1861
RR/2/247Referee's report by William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, on a paper 'On molecular influences.—Part I. Transmission of heat through organic structures' by John Tyndall15 June 1852
RR/2/251Referee's report by William Robert Grove, on a paper 'On the vibrations and tones produced by the contact of bodies having different temperatures' by John Tyndall15 February 1854
RR/4/174Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the effect of the presence of metals and metalloids upon the electric conducting power of pure copper' by Augustus Matthiessen26 May 1860
RR/4/104Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the stratifications in electrical discharges, as observed in torricellian and other vacua - second communication' by John Peter Gassiot23 March 1859
RR/4/273Referee's report by William Thomson, on a paper 'On the absorption and radiation of heat by gaseous matter - Second memoir' by John Tyndall[1861]
RR/4/277Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On magnetic calms and earth-currents' by Charles Vincent Walker15 March 1862
RR/4/266Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the motions of camphor on the surface of water' by Charles Tomlinson15 March 1862
RR/5/118Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the theory of the motion of glaciers' by William Hopkins27 June 1862
RR/4/180Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the theory of compound colours, and the relations of the colours of the spectrum' by James Clerk Maxwell24 May 1860
RR/4/215Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On muscular action from an electrical point of view' by Charles Bland Radcliffe25 May 1859
RR/5/99Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'Further inquiries concerning the laws and operation of electrical force' by William Snow Harris21 November 1864
RR/5/149Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the influence of temperature on the electric conducting-power of alloys' by Augustus Matthiessen and Carl Vogt7 December 1863
RR/4/269Referee's report by John Phillips, on a paper 'On the veined structure of glaciers; with observations upon white ice-seams, air-bubbles and dirt-bands, and remarks upon glacier theories' by John Tyndall10 May 1859
RR/5/144Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the Influence of temperature on the electric conducting-power of thallium and iron' by Augustus Matthiessen and Carl Vogt[1863]
RR/5/275Referee's report by George Gabriel Stokes, on the Bakerian Lecture 'Contributions to molecular physics.— Being the fifth memoir of researches on radiant heat' by John Tyndall23 March 1863
RR/5/240Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'Numerical elements of Indian meteorology' by Hermann De Schlagintweit13 June 1865
RR/5/273Referee's report by William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, on a paper 'On the relation of radiant heat to aqueous vapour' by John Tyndall18 March 1863
RR/5/276Referee's report by William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, on the Bakerian Lecture 'Contributions to molecular physics.— Being the fifth memoir of researches on radiant heat' by John Tyndall14 June 1864
RR/6/294Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On supersaturated saline solutions' by Charles Tomlinson16 October 1868
RR/6/120Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'Results of observations of atmospheric electricity at Kew Observatory, and at King's College, Windsor, Nova Scotia' by Joseph David Everett26 March 1868
RR/7/79Referee's report by William Hallowes Miller, on a paper 'On the action of rays of high refrangibility upon gaseous matter' by John Tyndall[1870]
RR/6/302Referee's report by George Gabriel Stokes, on a paper 'On Calorescence' by John Tyndall18 January 1866
RR/7/78Referee's report by William Allen Miller, on a paper 'On the action of rays of high refrangibility upon gaseous matter' by John Tyndall24 February 1870
RR/6/306Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'Experimental researches in magnetism and electricity' by Henry Wilde19 May 1866
RR/6/303Referee's report by James Clerk Maxwell, on a paper 'Sixth memoir on radiation and absorption.— Influence of colour and mechanical condition on radiant heat' by John Tyndall22 February 1866
RR/7/497Referee's report by Alexander William Williamson, on a paper 'The optical deportment of the atmosphere in relation to the phenomena of putrefaction and infection' by John Tyndall19 May 1876
RR/7/496Referee's report by Thomas Henry Huxley, on a paper 'The optical deportment of the atmosphere in relation to the phenomena of putrefaction and infection' by John Tyndall10 April 1876
RR/9/66Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'Experimental researches on the propagation of heat by conduction in bone, brain-tissue, and skin' by J S Lombard23 May 1882
RR/9/95Referee's report by William Crookes, on a paper 'Action of free molecules on radiant heat, and its conversion thereby into sound' by John Tyndall28 February 1882
RR/10/13Letter from John Tyndall, to John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh, regarding a paper [attributed] 'On radiation from dull and bright surfaces' by James Thomson Bottomley6 July 1887
RR/6/301Referee's report by James Clerk Maxwell, on a paper 'On Calorescence' by John Tyndall1 January 1866
NLB/62/462Copy letter from Francis Alexander Towle, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society; to the Assistant Secretary of the British Association17 February 1922
RR/3/185Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the formation of continuous tabular masses of stony lava on steep slopes; with remarks on the mode of origin of Mount Etna, and the theory of craters of elevation' by Charles Lyell9 October 1858
RR/4/270Referee's report by William Hopkins, on a paper 'On the veined structure of glaciers; with observations upon white ice-seams, air-bubbles and dirt-bands, and remarks upon glacier theories' by John Tyndall12 April 1859
RR/4/106Referee's report by John Tyndall, on an unnamed paper by John Peter Gassiot27 April 1859
RR/4/32Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On the expansion of metals and alloys' by Frederick Crace Calvert and G C Lowe18 June 1860
RR/4/268Referee's report by John Phillips, on a paper 'On the physical phenomena of glaciers - Part I - Observations on the mer de glace' by John Tyndall28 October 1859
RR/7/350Referee's report by George Gabriel Stokes, on a paper 'On the atmosphere as a vehicle of sound' by John Tyndall2 March 1874
RR/7/351Referee's report by Robert Bellamy Clifton, on a paper 'On the atmosphere as a vehicle of sound' by John Tyndall17 March 1874
MS/426/471Note of a letter from [the Secretaries of] the Royal Society; to various Fellows15 July 1852
IM/004692Tyndall, John1872 ?
IM/004695Tyndall, John1999
IM/004691Tyndall, Johnnd
MS/743/1/6Letter from John Tyndall, Queenwood, to Dr [John Hall] Gladstone17 August 1851
NLB/3/916List of corrections in the addresses of Royal Society Fellows8 November 1889
NLB/11/871Copy letter from Herbert Rix, to Mrs Tyndall, Hindhead House, Haslemere22 October 1895
RR/3/193Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'Electro-physiological researches. Physical and chemical phenomena of muscular contraction.— Tenth series. Part I' by Carlo Matteucci30 July 1856
RR/5/95Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'On some new phenomena of residuary charge, and the law of exploding distance of electrical accumulation on coated glass' by William Snow Harris24 October 1861
RR/3/157Referee's report by John Tyndall, on a paper 'Introductory research on the induction of magnetism by electrical currents' by James Prescott Joule4 January 1856
RR/3/154Referee's report by Michael Faraday, on a paper 'Introductory research on the induction of magnetism by electrical currents' by James Prescott Joule6 July 1855
RR/2/253Referee's report by William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, on the Bakerian Lecture 'On the nature of the force why which bodies are repelled from the poles of a magnet; to which is prefixed, an account of some experiments on molecular influences' by John Tyndall[1855]
RR/5/274Referee's report by William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, on a paper 'On the absorption and radiation of heat by gaseous and liquid matter.—Fourth memoir' by John Tyndall28 October 1863
MS/769/107Letter from John Tyndall, Royal Institution, to [Walter White]22 January [1881]
VF/38"The Scientific Use of the Imagination"06 April 1872
Add to My Items

    Collection highlights

    Browse the records of some of our collections, which cover all branches of science and date from the 12th century onwards. These include the published works of Fellows of the Royal Society, personal papers of eminent scientists, letters and manuscripts sent to the Society or presented at meetings, and administrative records documenting the Society's activities since our foundation in 1660.

    The Royal Society

    The Royal Society is a Fellowship of many of
    the world's most eminent scientists and is the
    oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.
    Registered charity number 207043

    Website design ©CalmView



    CONTACT US

    + 44 207 451 2500
    (Lines open Mon-Fri, 9:00-17:00. Excludes bank holidays)

    6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

    Email Us →

    SUBSCRIBE

    Subscribe to our newsletters to be updated with the
    latest news on innovation, events, articles and reports.

    Subscribe →

    © CalmView