Scarcely any member of the Arabian circle of the sciences, including theology, philology, mathematics, astronomy, physics and music, was left untouched by the treatises of Avicenna, many of which probably varied little, except in being commissioned by a different patron and having a different form or extent.
For medicine in England Harvey did what William Gilbert did for physics and Robert Boyle for chemistry: he insisted upon direct interrogation of natural processes, and thereby annihilated the ascendancy of mere authority, which, while nations were in the making, was an essential principle in the welding together of heterogeneous and turbulent peoples.
In solar physics Huggins suggested a spectroscopic method for viewing the red prominences in daylight; and his experiments went far towards settling a much-disputed question regarding the solar distribution of calcium.
The different works are more or less connected by a system of references, which give rise to difficulties, especially when they are cross-references: for example, the Analytics and Topics quote one another: so do the Physics and the Metaphysics; the De Vita and De Respiratione and the De Partibus Animalium; this latter treatise and the De Animalium Incessu; the De Interpretatione and the De Anima.
For his early education he proceeded first to the college of Charleville, and afterwards to that of Reims. in 1788 he returned to Mezieres, where he was attached to the school of engineering as draughtsman to the professors of physics and chemistry.
Science, he says, may be compared to a tree; metaphysics is the root, physics is the trunk, and the three chief branches are mechanics, medicine and Ouvres, viii.
He was the author of over 70 papers on mechanics and physics published in the transactions of learned societies, notably Sub-Mechanics of the Universe, issued by the Royal Society, whose gold medal he won in 1888.
For eight years subsequently he held the chair of Physics and Astronomy in King's College, London, but resigned in 1868 and retired to his estate of Glenlair in Kirkcudbrightshire.
In 1887 Svante Arrhenius, professor of physics at Stockholm, put forward a new theory which supposed that the freedom of the opposite ions from each other was not a mere momentary freedom at the instants of molecular collision, but a more or less permanent freedom, the ions moving independently of each other through the liquid.
It thus draws upon physics for the explanation of the phenomena with the space-relations of which it is specially concerned.