1820-1893: Discovering "Tyndall's Blue"

  • The Start of a Poor Genius

    John Tyndall was born on August 2, 1820 in Leighlinbridge, County Carlow, Ireland into a poor Protestant Irish family. He was the only son to John and Sarah Tyndall.
    Tyndall grew up studying under hedge-schools, a secret school held mostly outdoors for children in non-conforming faiths. There he was taught by John Conwill who focused on ensuring childrens' success in creating a solid foundation in English composition, mathematics, surveying, and drawing.
  • Finding His Purpose

    In approx. 1838, John Tyndall moved his education into practice as a surveyor for the Ordnance Survey of Ireland.
    In 1842, he relocated to Preston to work on English surveying where he found interest in continuing his education by attending night classes at the local Mechanics Institute.
  • Faraday's Favor

    Michael Faraday's discovery of diamagnetism in 1845 became essential to Tyndall's experimentation with polarity of diamagnetic bodies.
    Incorporating himself into the Victorian Era, Tyndall started his first of four major areas of research.
    Tyndall began with opposing Faradays theories and thinking about the constitution of matter and its relationship to force while specifying the underlying mechanisms.
  • Phase 1

    Tyndall began his studies with German physicist Hermann Knoblauch. Together they used the German approach to 'measure and number' their phenomena.
    Their studies led them to believe "the structure of any crystal to the magnetic force depends on its internal structure, or rather the forces which give it its particular structure, and that in line which coincides with the magnetic axis may be called the magnecrystallic axis, which may not coincide either with the crystallographic or optic axis."(1)
  • Expanding Research Into Nature

    After providing lectures from 1850-1858 to many other philosophers and scientists, Tyndall took an interest in nature.
    He began research on the "absorption of infrared light by gases found in the atmosphere."(3)
    The experiments began with a glass tube showing a white light at the end, to replicate the sun, creating his "light-pipe".
    After moderately filling the tube with smoke, he could see different colors appear in certain areas; blue closer to the light whilst red was on the far end.
  • Explaining Particles

    Tyndall's experimentation with particles created the "Tyndall effect."

    He explained that "the color of the sky is a result of light from the sun scattering around particles in the upper atmosphere."
    White lights contain all colors. Blue light appears more frequent as its wavelengths are shorter than that of red colors, thus making it easier to disrupt and scatter.
  • "Tyndall's Blue" in the Face

    Concluding his experiment, Tyndall was able to explain how the sun's particles made blue easier to disseminate, justifying why the colors yellow, orange, and red become more apparent as the sun sets due to the denser wave lengths. The official color of the sky is called "Tyndall Blue."
    Settling down, Tyndall married Louisa Charlotte at the young age of 55, in 1876. Because of his illnesses, he retired. After his wife overdosed him on chloral hydrate, he passed away on 04 December 1893.