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Transmutation Of Rays - Calorescence

( Originally Published 1905 )



Eminent experimenters were long occupied in demonstrating the substantial identity of light and radiant heat, and we have now the means of offering a new and striking proof of this identity. A concave mirror produces, beyond the object which it reflects, an inverted and magnified image of the object. Withdrawing, for example, our iodine solution, an intensely luminous inverted image of the carbon points of the electric light is formed at the focus of the mirror employed in the foregoing experiments. When the solution is interposed, and the light is cut away, what becomes of this image? It disappears from sight; but an invisible thermograph remains, and it is only the peculiar constitution of our eyes that disqualifies us from seeing the picture formed by the calorific rays. Falling on white paper, the image chars itself out: falling on black paper, two holes are pierced in it, corresponding to the images of the two coke points : but falling on a thin plate of carbon in vacuo, or upon a thin sheet of platinized platinum, either in vacuo or in air, radiant heat is converted into light, and the image stamps itself in vivid incandescence upon both the carbon and the metal. Results similar to those obtained with the electric light have also been obtained with the invisible rays of the lime-light and of the sun.

Before a Cambridge audience it is hardly necessary to refer to the excellent researches of Professor Stokes at the opposite end of the spectrum. The above results constitute a kind of complement to his discoveries. Professor Stokes named the phenomena which he has discovered and investigated Fluorescence; for the new phenomena here described I have proposed the term Calorescence. He, by the interposition of a proper medium, so lowered the refrangibility of the ultra-violet rays of the spectrum as to render them visible. Here, by the interposition of the platinum foil, the refrangibility of the ultra-red rays is so exalted as to render them visible. Looking through a prism at the incandescent image of the carbon points, the light of the image is decomposed, and a complete spectrum is obtained. The invisible rays of the electric light, remolded by the atoms of the platinum, shine thus visibly forth; ultra-red rays being converted into red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, and ultra-violet ones. Could we, moreover, raise the original source of rays to a sufficiently high temperature, we might not only obtain from the dark rays of such a source a single incandescent image, but from the dark rays of this image we might obtain a second one, from the dark rays of the second a third, and so ona series of complete images and spectra being thus extracted from the invisible emission of the primitive source.



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