I am in love.
Let me clarify. Sir Oliver Lodge and John Tyndall are men I continue to return to, continue to be fascinated with. Thanks to a delay at work, I have had several hours to return to a book (haphazardly and luckily thrown in my bag this morning) about the life of Lodge.
Reading biographies always makes me re-evaluate my own life. I’d never heard of Lodge before I began this strange pursuit of ether science. Now I find myself reading about his life and feeling like I stumble into old friends.
Because I have the time, here is my history with Lodge:
I stumbled on Sir Walter Rayleigh’s scattering principle while looking for a way to structure my thesis. He charted observations of the blue sky, and the resulting image looked like the graceful arc of iris petals. I wanted to understand why, and so I began to look into refraction and reflection, which led me to John Tyndall. Within his transcriptions from his light lectures Tyndall talked about the humours of the eye (poem inspired is available upon request) and the ether of the sky. As anyone who has accidently asked me what I’ve been working on can attest, I haven’t been the same since. I know more about ether than anyone ought to–and I’m beginning to move into dark matter. But that’s another topic.
In reading (and reading and reading) about ether, I continue to run into the same names. This isn’t strange, but what does strike me is how often I run into the same names in different contexts. A few weeks ago my cousin gave us tickets to Bone Portraits, a play about Edison and X-Rays. Roentgen was one of the characters, and in reading about Lodge today, there was Roentgen. Lodge worked with telegraphy at the same time as Marconi, but I would hazard a guess that more people would recognize the Italian. He corresponded with J. J. Thompson (later Lord Kelvin) and had dinners with H. G. Wells. Men whose names I remember from science class years ago inhabit these pages, but I can’t remember hearing about Lodge before two years ago. He seems to be relegated to the “and others” part of most descriptions.
Who will be the names remembered from the communities (scientists, artists, musicians) now, and who will become “and others”? It is an exercise in futility to project into the future who will be remembered from the past. Creating is always an attempt at immortality, and some will succeed. I want to say that Lodge failed, but even that isn’t really true. I know about him now, and so do you. Ask me about his theories and his life, and I will tell you more. This is what I do for love.