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Stephen Herbert

Brian Clegg

The Man who Stopped Time

Moving pictures are one of the main things that define the coming of the modern age, but the name of the first person to project a moving image is seldom heard. In The Man Who Stopped Time: The Illuminating Story of Eadweard Muybridge, Brian Clegg looks at the life of this man, and at why he is less well known than he should be.

Muybridge quickly progressed in his photographic career, but when his wife had a baby, he discovered that he wasn't the father - it was in fact a charmer called Harry Larkyns. Muybridge sought out Larkyns and shot him dead - which should have meant the death penalty for Muybridge, but somehow the jury took his side and he was freed.

Muybridge's luck continued - he was commissioned by the weathy Leland Stanford to photographically investigate the movement of horses. Muybridge's inventiveness meant that soon he was displaying this with his zoöpraxiscope - essentially the first movie projector.

I felt that the book was a bit unexciting at first, despite the murder. With Muybridge's career in a rapidly improving technology, not to mention the character of Harry Larkyns, I'm sure that there was opportunity for it to be spiced up a bit. But as I got into the book I found it became much more interesting, not only for those who want to know about the history of moving pictures, but also for the story of a man who never seemed to quite achieve the fame he deserved.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews