In the 18th and early 19th centuries, it was common for discoveries in branches of science such as botany, astronomy and medicine to be described in book-length treatises in verse. By the end of the 19th century this mode of popularising science was falling from favour as the studies of science and the humanities diverged and study became more specialised. This small selection of somewhat lighter-hearted verse written by distinguished scientists and mathematicians of the day includes poems by James Clerk Maxwell, William J. Macquorn Rankine and James Joseph Sylvester.
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