On two books by Denis Weaire#


Denis Weaire FRS, one of Fitzgerald’s successors as Erasmus Smith Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy in Trinity College Dublin, has gathered together a wealth of information and critical comment on one of the 19th century’s most imaginative and inspiring physicists.

It includes five essays originally commissioned by Weaire for the European Review, together with notes on Fitzgerald’s publications and other records of his career. The list of his papers extends far beyond the supposedly complete Scientific Writings edited by Joseph Larmor, so they may fairly be described as brief but hardly sparse. But his chief influence remains to be foundin his correspondence. This publication coincides with the opening up of the Fitzgerald Correspondence by the Royal Dublin Society to the wider world of scholarship, through Web access. It is an extraordinary record of the “invisible college” that centred on Fitzgerald, not just inelectromagnetic theory, the invention of radio and the early hints of relativity, but over a wide range of pure and applied science.

Fitzgerald may have been restless and discontented by the time of his death in 1901, but he had achieved an unrivalled reputation for selfless generosity in advancing science for the common good.
(by Denis Weaire FRS, TCD/School of Physics, May 2009)



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