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By Edmund T Whittaker

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Extra resources for A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity -From The Age of Descart

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It was frankly advocated by another member rapid progress. of the Dutch school, Hermann Boerhaave* (6. 1668, d. 1738), the University of Leyden, whose was translated into English in 1727. chemistry it was found that the heating later Somewhat Professor in treatise on effects of the rays from incandescent bodies may be separated from their luminous effects by passing the rays through a plate of glass, which transmits the light, but absorbs the heat. ^ In the latter part of the eighteenth and early part of the nineteenth was generally conceived as occupying the between the particles of ponderable matter an idea which fitted in well with the observation that bodies commonly centuries} caloric interstices expand when they are absorbing petent to explain the fact The latter difficulty heat, but which was that water expands less when com- freezing.

The Xewton was, Hooke, that light consists in vibrations of an aether, he rejected for reasons which at that time were perfectly cogent, and which indeed were not successfully refuted for over hypothesis of One a century. was the incompetence of these of the wave- theory to account for the rectilinear propagation of light, and another was its inability to embrace the facts discovered, as we shall presently by Huygens, and see, first interpreted by Newton himself of polarization. On the whole, he seems to have favoured a scheme of which the following may correctly be taken as a summaryf All space is permeated by an elastic : medium is capable of propagating vibrations in the *Phil.

That a ray of light should possess such properties Newton f an seemed to the hypothesis which insuperable objection of waves waves of sound. On to as regarded light analogous this point he was in the right his objections are perfectly to : valid against the wave-theory as it was understood by his which was put contemporaries J, although not against the theory forward a century later by Young and Fresnel. * The second edition of Newton's Opticks, Query 26. t Opticks, Query 28. J In which the oscillations are performed in the direction in which the wave advances.

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A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity -From The Age of Descart by Edmund T Whittaker


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