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Dionysius Lardner

Dionysius Lardner (April 3, 1793 - April 29, 1859), Irish scientific writer, was born at Dublin.

His father, a solicitor, wished his son to follow the same calling. After some years of uncongenial desk work, Lardner entered Trinity College, Dublin, and graduated B.A. in 1817. In 1828 he became professor of natural philosophy and astronomy at University College, London, a position he held till 1840, when he eloped with a married lady, and had to leave the country. After a lecturing tour through the principal cities of the United States, which realized £40,000, he returned to Europe in 1845. He settled at Paris, and resided there till within a few months of his death, which took place at Naples.

Though lacking in originality or brilliancy, Lardner showed himself to be a successful popularizer of science. He was the author of numerous mathematical and physical treatises on such subjects as algebraic geometry (1823), the differential and integral calculus (1825), the steam engine (1828), besides hand-books on various departments of natural philosophy (1854-1856); but it is as the editor of Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia (1830-1844) that he is best remembered.

To this scientific library of 134 volumes many of the ablest savants of the day contributed, Lardner himself being the author of the treatises on arithmetic, geometry, heat, hydrostatics and pneumatics, mechanics (in conjunction with Henry Kater) and electricity (in conjunction with CV Walker). The Cabinet Library (12 vols., 1830-1832) and the Museum of Science and Art (12 vols., 1854-1856) are his other chief undertakings. A few original papers appear in the Royal Irish Academy's Transactions (1824), in the Royal Society's Proceedings (1831-1836) and in the Astronomical Society's Monthly Notices (1852-1853); and two Reports to the British Association on railway constants (1838, 1841) are from his pen.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.