Stewart, Balfour (1828–1887)
Professor of natural philosophy at Owens College, Manchester,
England, who received the Rumford Medal of the Royal Society
for his discovery of the law of equality between the absorptive
and radiative powers of bodies. He occupied the
presidential chair of the Society for Psychical Research, London,
from 1885 to 1887.
Stewart was born on November 1, 1828, in Edinburgh, Scotland.
He was educated in Dundee and the Universities of St.
Andrews and Edinburgh. He traveled to Australia, where he acquired
a reputation as a physicist. After returning to Britain in
1856, he joined the staff of Kew Observatory, becoming a director
in 1859. He also made important scientific contributions in
mathematics and radiant heat.
Stewart was interested in the phenomena of the medium
Daniel Douglas Home, of whom he commented to Sir William
‘‘Mr. Home possesses great electrobiological power by
which he influences those present . . . however susceptible the
persons in the room to that assumed influence, it will hardly be
contended that Mr. Home biologized the recording instrument.’’
Stewart coauthored with Professor Tait the anonymously
published The Unseen Universe (1875), a book that created a stir
as the first serious scientific attempt to establish a spiritual view
of the universe to oppose the prevailing materialistic one. He
died suddenly on December 19, 1887, of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.