January 2, 2014
Come See the Earth Turn: The Story of Leon Foucault by Lori Mortensen, illustrations by Raul Allen
Come See the Earth Turn:
The Story of Leon Foucault
by Lori Mortensen
illustrations by Raul Allen
No one expected great things from Leon Foucault. He was a small baby, then a small boy. The last one to finish his lessons and too slow to answer questions in class.
But slow wasn’t always a bad thing. Not when it accompanied precise. These traits paired together as Leon duplicated scientific contraptions, such as the optical telegraph that topped Saint Sulpice Church.
Someone with such clever hands should only have one job, said his mama and she enrolled him in medical school. This proved to be a disaster, he could handle neither the blood or the suffering patients, but he was a marvel with the microscopes and other equipment. One of his professors got him a job as an assistant in the microscope class.
This freed Leon from thinking about medicine. He turned his thought to science. For centuries scientists had been trying to prove that the earth spins on an axis. While working with a lathe, Leon realized how he could prove this. When he had built his pendulum, he send out invitations.
“You are invited to come see the earth turn, tomorrow from three to five at the Meridian Hall of the Paris Observatory.”
Everyone knew that the pendulum would swing back and forth in a straight line, over the line drawn on the floor. But that isn’t what happened. As the earth rotated beneath the pendulum, the path of the pendulum seemed to shift.
This is an amazing book about how scientific discovery works. It isn’t always accomplished by the greatest minds or those with the most money. Sometimes the answers come to people who are working on something else entirely, but happen to observe something and understand what they see.
Another must for the young science classroom!