- Unknown Binding: 244 pages
- Publisher: Scott (1905)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00085ZQ7O
This first-person view is set in the era when the all-encompassing ether was still considered seriously. People had recent memory of debates about whether electrons were real. There was no unification of rays from uranium and radium with cathode rays, x-rays, and ultraviolet.
The intellectual seeds of modern science had been sown, though. Experiments with ultraviolet foretold Einstein's photoelectric effect. Lorentz had already stated some of the invariants that led to relativity. Probability was just entering mainstream scientific thought, preparatory to statistical mechanics, quantum theory, and Heisenberg.
As Poincare covers the science of his day, he does so in the style of his day. He is quite unashamed in describing the British scientific temperament as boldly intuitive, but informal and sometimes spotty. By contrast, he describes the French as rigorous and inclusive, although maybe a bit too staid. Not just the science, but the social attitudes of the day come through in the pleasant little book. If you study the history of science and are partial to primary sources, I recommend this highly.