Jean-Henri Casimir Fabre (1823-1915) was a French entomologist and author. Fabre was born in Saint-Léons in Aveyron, France. Fabre was largely an autodidact, owing to the poverty of his family. Nevertheless, he acquired a primary teaching certificate at the young age of 19 and began teaching in Carpentras whilst pursuing further studies. In 1849 he was appointed to a teaching post in Ajaccio (Corsica), then in 1849 moved on to the lycée in Avignon. Fabre went on to accomplish many scholarly achievements. He was a popular teacher, physicist, chemist and botanist. However, he is probably best known for his findings in the field of entomology, the study of insects, and is considered by many to be the father of modern entomology. Much of his enduring popularity is due to his marvelous teaching ability and his manner of writing about the lives of insects in biographical form, which he preferred to a clinically detached, journalistic mode of recording. In doing so he combined what he called "my passion for scientific truth" with keen observations and an engaging, colloquial style of writing. Fabre noted: Others again have reproached me with my style, which has not the solemnity, nay, better, the dryness of the schools. They fear lest a page that is read without fatigue should not always be the expression of the truth. Were I to take their word for it, we are profound only on condition of being obscure. Over the years he wrote a series of texts on insects and arachnids that are collectively known as the Souvenirs Entomologiques. Fabre's influence is felt in the later works of fellow naturalist Charles Darwin, who called Fabre "an inimitable observer". Fabre, however, rejected Darwin's theory of evolution; on the other hand he was not a Biblical creationist either but assumed a saltationist origin of biodiversity. In one of Fabre's most famous experiments, he arranged processionary caterpillars to form a continuous loop around the edge of a pot. As each caterpillar instinctively followed the silken trail of the caterpillars in front of it, the group moved around in a circle for seven days. Jean-Henri Fabre's last home and office, the Harmas de Fabre in Provence stands today as a museum devoted to his life and works. The site of his birth, at St Léons, near Millau is now the site of Micropolis, a tourist attraction dedicated to popularising entomology and a museum on his life.
The Story Book of Scienceby Jean Henri Fabre
Originally published in 1917, "The Story Book of Science" is a detailed children's story book about nature. "Uncle Paul" teaches his niece and nephews about nature with a passion and zeal rarely seen in science books. Each of the 80 chapters in the book illustrates some new truth about nature from a godly perspective, and serves as a launching pad for interesting discussions. "Uncle Paul" relates things in ways that are easy to picture. Children will learn how many balls the size of the earth it would take to fill the sun (if it were hollow), that volcanic orifices have safety valves which help to prevent disastrous earthquakes, and how ants milk their own cows. They will also learn how to tell some poisonous mushrooms from others, how pearls are made, how to remove venom from bites, and much more. The units of measure in this book are a little antiquated, and the vocabulary can be challenging at times. However, the context of "The Story Book of Science" always makes the lessons so clear that younger children can still enjoy it. The story form of the book, with the children asking questions and marveling alongside Uncle Paul, combined with interesting information make "The Story Book of Science" accessible to a wide range of ages. The science itself is amazingly accurate. There is even a discussion about relative motion on trains, which actually didn't have a "theory" until Einstein. "The Story Book of Science" was written by Jean Henri Fabre, whose infectious enthusiasm and animated, genuine interest in nature as made by God, makes it well worth the reading. The literary charm of the book, coupled with stories of the ants' subterranean city, the spider's suspension bridge, the mystery behind thunder and lightning, the year and its seasons, and much more, make "The Story Book of Science" a classic that will be enjoyed by children for years to come.
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