Highly distinguished physicist and
chemist. Discovered the element thallium. Elected fellow of the
Royal Society in 1863, Royal Gold Medal 1875, Davy Medal 1888,
Sir Joseph Copley Medal 1904, knighted in 1897 and the Order of
Merit in 1910. Invented the radiometer, developed the Crookes
tube, invented the cathode-ray tube, pioneered research into
radiation effects, contributed to photography, wireless
telegraphy, electricity and spectroscopy. President at different
times of the Royal Society, the Chemical Society, the
Institution of Electrical Engineers, the Society of Chemical
Industry, the Society for Psychical Research (from 1896-1899)
and the British Association. Founder of the Chemical News,
editor of Quarterly Journal of Science.
IT IS now many years since an authentic edition of these researches was published, and it is felt that a new edition would be welcomed by many people who have no access to the former one. At the time of his death, Sir William Crookes was preparing to issue a new edition, which might or might not have been recast and enlarged to include his later experiences. However this may have been, there is now no one competent to alter or add to what he has written. Nevertheless, the present volume is not a verbatim reprint of the original. It has been judged expedient to omit, as no longer relevant, certain correspondence challenging and vindicating his competency to make and record the crucial experiments with D. D. Home, and in addition the names of certain gentlemen who were at first referred to by initials, but whose names were subsequently given, have been inserted in the text. With these exceptions, everything is as first published by Sir (then Mr.) William Crookes.
Though not mentioned in the text, it is desirable to put on record that Sir William wrote to several of his friends: "The photographs of Katie King were only permitted to be taken on condition that they should never be published," and from that day to this the condition has been rigidly adhered to, and, it is to be hoped, will be in the future.
A short list of some of the chief landmarks in Sir William's life may be of interest to those readers who have not seen his biography (published 1923).
He was born in 1832 and died in 1919 in his 87th year, both events taking place in London.
In 1897 he was knighted "in recognition of the eminent services he had rendered to the advance of scientific knowledge," and in 1910 he was further honoured by the bestowal of the Order of Merit.
In 1898 he became President of the British Association at Bristol, and the latter half of his Presidential Address, in which he refers to his Spiritualistic Researches a quarter of a century before, has been included in this volume.
In 1913 he was elected President of the Royal Society. In his later years he had been President of the Society for Psychical Research, the Chemical Society, the Society of Chemical Industry and the Electrical Engineers. He was elected a correspondent of the Institut de France in 1906, and was Honorary Secretary of the Royal Institution in Albemarle Street for many years. He was D.Sc. and LL.D. of six English and one Colonial Universities.
Those who are interested to know why all these and other honours were showered upon him in his declining years will find a fairly complete account of his activities in many fields of scientific research for upwards of 60 years, in the biography referred to above, and at the same time will find ample justification for trusting to his accuracy mid judgment in carrying out the research described in the following
B. H. Crookes