François Arago: A 19th Century French Humanist and Pioneer in Astrophysics

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Springer, Sep 8, 2015 - Science - 334 pages
François Arago, the first to show in 1810 that the surface of the Sun and stars is made of incandescent gas and not solid or liquid, was a prominent physicist of the 19th century. He used his considerable influence to help Fresnel, Ampere and others develop their ideas and make themselves known. This book covers his personal contributions to physics, astronomy, geodesy and oceanography, which are far from negligible, but insufficiently known. Arago was also an important and influential political man who, for example, abolished slavery in the French colonies. One of the last humanists, he had a very broad culture and range of interests. In parallel to his biography, this title also covers the spectacular progresses of science at the time of Arago, especially in France: the birth of physical optics, electromagnetism and thermodynamics. Francois Arago’s life is a fascinating epic tale that reads as a novel.
 

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Contents

Scientific Life in France at the Time of Arago
1
The Life of Arago
22
The Nature of Light
57
The Velocity of Light
88
The Birth of Electromagnetism
119
Measuring the Earth
149
Arago and the Paris Observatory
172
Arago Astronomer
203
Arago Geophysicist and Meteorologist
235
Applied Physics
259
The Promotion of Science and Technique
273
Aragos Legacy
305
Bibliography
317
Index
324
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About the author (2015)

James Lequeux completed his PhD thesis in radioastronomy in 1962 and was an assistant, then associate, professor of physics and astronomy at Paris University until 1966. He was an Astronomer from 1966-1999 and an invited scientist at CalTech from 1968-1969. Dr. Lequeux was also the Director of the Marseilles Observatory from 1983-1988 and was Editor-in-Chief of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics for 15 years. He retired in 1999 and then began work on the history of astronomy, a subject he presently writes about. Dr. Lequeux has published over 403 papers and five books, including The Interstellar Medium (Springer 2005) and Le Verrier: Magnificent and Detestable Astronomer (Springer 2013).

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