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FORMERLY PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS IN THE LYCÉE LOUIS-LE-GRAND,
INSPECTOR OF THE ACADEMY OF PARIS.
TRANSLATED AND EDITED, WITH EXTENSIVE ADDITIONS,
By J. D. EVERETT, M. A., D. C. L., F. R. S. E.,
COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME.
SEVEN HUNDRED AND SIXTY ENGRAVINGS ON WOOD
AND THREE COLORED PLATES.
_N E W Y 0 Ꭱ Ꮶ :
TAE importance of the study of Physics is now generally acknowledged. Besides the interest of curiosity which attaches to the observation of nature, the experimental method furnishes one of the most salutary exercises for the mind-constituting in this respect a fitting supplement to the study of the mathematical sciences. The method of deduction employed in these latter, while eminently adapted to form the habit of strict reasoning, scarcely affords any exercise for the critical faculty which plays so important a part in the physical sciences. In Physics we are called upon, not to deduce rigorous consequences from an absolute principle, but to ascend from the particular consequences which alone are known to the general principle from which they flow. In this operation there is no absolutely certain method of procedure, and even relative certainty can only be attained by a discussion which calls into profitable exercise all the faculties of the mind.
Be this as it may, physical science has now taken an important place in education, and plays a prominent part in the examinations for the different university degrees. The present treatise is intended for the assistance of young men preparing for these degrees; but I trust that it may also be read with profit by those persons who, merely for purposes of self-instruction, wish to acquire accurate knowledge of natural phenomena. Having for nearly twenty years been charged with the duty of teaching from the chair of Physics in one of the lyceums of Paris, I have been under the necessity of making continual efforts to overcome the inherent difficulties of this branch of study. I have endeavoured to turn to account the experience thus acquired in the preparation of this volume, and I shall
be happy if I can thus contribute to advance the taste for a science which is at once useful and interesting.
For the convenience of candidates for the Bachelor's degree, I have appended to this treatise a number of problems, most of which have been taken from the examinations of the Faculty of Sciences of Paris or of the departments. With the same view I have made it my object to omit from the work none of the formulæ which are usually required for the solution of such questions. Beyond this point I have made very limited use of algebra. Though calculation is a precious and often indispensable auxiliary of physical science, the extent to which it can be advantageously employed varies greatly according to circumstances. There are in fact some phenomena which cannot be really understood without having recourse to measurement; but in a multitude of cases the explanation of phenomena can be rendered evident without resorting to numerical expression. In such cases calculation is of secondary importance, and may be said to be merely practical..
The physical sciences have of late years received very extensive developments. Facts have been multiplied indefinitely, and even theories have undergone great modifications. Hence arises considerable difficulty in selecting the most essential points and those which best represent the present state of science. I have done my best to cope with this difficulty, and I trust that the reader who attentively peruses my work, will be able to form a pretty accurate idea of the present position of physical science. I shall be happy in a second edition to avail myself of any observations which may be communicated to me on this or any other point.