346 B. Lightman Focusingontheeditors,journalistsandauthorswhoworkedonthenew‘popularscience’ periodicals and books from the 1860s to the 1880s, this piece will discuss how they conceived of their readers as co-participants in the creation of knowledge. The transformation of nineteenth-century publishing opened up opportunities for making science more accessible to a new polity of middle and working class readers. Editors, journalists and authors responded to the communications revolution, and the larger developments that accompanied it, by deﬁning the exemplary scientist in opposition to the emerging conception of the professional scientist, by rejecting the notion that the laboratory was the sole legitimate site of scientiﬁc discovery, and by experimenting with new ways of communicating scientiﬁc knowledge to their audience.
348 B. Lightman writer. Although Tyndall’s demonstrations were usually convincing, the writer complained that on this occasion ‘he formulated such grave propositions, and to our minds supported them so imperfectly, that we must own to leaving the lecture theatre in a very sceptical frame of mind’. Scientiﬁc Opinion rejected Tyndall’s assertions that the air we breathe is packed with minute organic particles that are germs of plants like yeast and other such fungus, and that they were responsible for epidemics. Tyndall had not offered sufﬁcient proofs for these controversial statements.33 Since Tyndall’s lecture was, to him, an important statement of his position on the spontaneous generation debate, and since his reputation as a trusted experimenter was being questioned, he felt compelled to reply.34 That he decided to do so was an acknowledgement of the inﬂuence of Scientiﬁc Opinion.
352 B. Lightman Popularizers of science insisted that scientiﬁc investigations could be done almost anywhere, and not just in the privileged sites of professional science. Science consisted in the study of common objects that were within the easy reach of all. These objects could be found in the most mundane, everyday places, such as stagnant pools, horse-ponds or even one’s own backyard. Public scientiﬁc spaces, such as the Brighton Aquarium or the Royal Polytechnic Institution, were also valid sites for undertaking research and for the witnessing of new discoveries. They were not merely sites of science popularization in which visitors passively consumed old scientiﬁc truths already uncovered by professional scientists. By expanding the number of legitimate sites in which scientiﬁc research could be undertaken, popularizers of science maintained that diverse sites offered different levels of participation to members of the public. Participation in the making of science did not require gaining access to a laboratory or travelling to exotic locations to obtain rare specimens.
Popularizers, participation and transformations 355 notbetoldthingswhich,althoughfamiliartohimasABC,areneverthelesstotallyunknown to the general reader’.70 From the 1860s to the 1880s many popular science journal editors encouraged broader participation by their audiences through the use of innovative formats and more extensive use of correspondence columns.
356 B. Lightman andthecreationofscientiﬁcicons.Asfortheformer,ithasbecomeevidentthattheattitude of scientiﬁc naturalists such as Huxley and Joseph Hooker towards amateurs is more complicated than historians originally thought. Barton has pointed out that we have neglected the signiﬁcance of amateur members of the X Club, such as John Lubbock.
Popularizers, participation and transformations 357 NOTES 1 TheQuarterlyJournalofSciencewasfoundedin1864andeditedbyJamesSamuelsonandthe chemist William Crookes. Signiﬁcant changestook place later, ﬁrst in 1869, when Samuelson became chief editor, and then in 1879, when the journal became a monthly. It ceased publication in 1881. See Ruth Barton, ‘Just before Nature: the purposes of science and the purposes of popularization in some English popular science journals of the 1860s’, Ann. Sci.