This book takes its origin in a course of lectures on the history and progress of Astronomy arranged for me in the year 1887 by three of my colleagues (A.C.B., J.M., G.H.R.), one of whom gave the course its name. If I may claim for them any merit, I should say it consists in their simple statement and explanation of scientific facts and laws. The biographical details are compiled from all readily available sources, there is no novelty or originality about them; though it is hoped that there may be some vividness. I have simply tried to present a living figure of each Pioneer in turn, and to trace his influence on the progress of thought.
into a statement, the truth is as hopelessly hidden as if it had never been stated, for we have no criterion to distinguish the false from the true.
[Illustration: FIG. 1.--Archimedes.]
Besides this, however, many of their discoveries were ultimately lost to the world, some, as at Alexandria, by fire--the bigoted work of a Mohammedan conqueror--some by irruption of barbarians; and all were buried so long and so completely by the night of the dark ages, that they had to be rediscovered almost as absolutely and completely as though they had never been. Some of the names of antiquity we shall have occasion to refer to; so I have arranged some of them in chronological order on page 4, and as a representative one I may specially emphasize Archimedes, one of the greatest men of science there has ever been, and the father of physics.
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