Page images

red glass absorbs the more refrangible rays, and transmits the red, which are the least refrangible. On the contrary, violet glass absorbs the least refrangible, and transmits the violet, which are the most refrangible. Now M. Melloni has found, that, although the colouring matter of glass diminishes its power of transmitting heat, yet red, orange, yellow, blue, violet, and white glass transmit calorific rays of all degrees of refrangibility; whereas green glass possesses the peculiar property of transmitting the least refrangible calorific rays, and stopping those that are most refrangible. It has therefore the same elective action for heat that coloured glass has for light, and its action on heat is analogous to that of red glass on light. Alum and sulphate of lime are exactly opposed to green glass in their action on heat, by transmitting the most refrangible rays with the greatest facility.

The heat which has already passed through green or opaque black glass will not pass through alum, whilst that which has been transmitted through glasses of other colours traverses it readily.

By reversing the experiment, and exposing different substances to heat that had already passed through alum, M. Melloni found that the heat emerging from alum is almost totally intercepted by opaque substances, and is abundantly transmitted by all such as are transparent and colourless, and that it suffers no appreciable loss when the thickness of the plate is varied within certain limits. The properties of the heat therefore which issues from alum nearly approach to those of light and solar heat.

Radiant heat in traversing various media is not only rendered more or less capable of being transmitted a second time, but, according to the experiments of Professor Powell, it becomes more or less susceptible of being absorbed in different quantities by black or white surfaces.

M. Melloni has proved that solar heat contains rays which are affected by different substances in the same way as if the heat proceeded from a terrestrial source; whence he concludes that the difference observed between the transmission of terrestrial and solar heat arises from the circumstance of solar heat containing all kinds of heat, whilst in other sources some of the kinds are wanting.

Radiant heat, from sources of any temperature whatever, is subject to the same laws of reflection and refraction as rays of light. The index of refraction from a prism of rock-salt, determined experimentally, is nearly the same for light and heat.

Liquids, the various kinds of glass, and probably all substances, whether solid or liquid, that do not crystallize regularly, are more pervious to the calorific rays according as they possess a greater refractive power. For example, the chloride of sulphur, which has a high refractive power, transmits more of the calorific rays than the oils, which have a less refractive power: oils transmit more radiant heat than the acids; the acids more than aqueous solutions; and the latter more than pure water, which

: of all the series has the least refractive power, and is the least pervious to heat. M. Melloni observed also that each ray of the solar spectrum follows the same law of action with that of terrestrial rays having their origin in sources of different temperatures; so that the very refrangible rays may be compared to the heat emanating from a focus of high temperature, and the least refrangible to the heat which comes from a source of low temperature. Thus, if the calorific rays emerging froin a prism be made to pass through a layer of water contained between two plates of glass, it will be found that these rays suffer a loss in passing through the liquid as much greater as their refrangibility is less. The rays of heat that are mixed with the blue or violet light pass in great abundance, while those in the obscure part which follows the red light are almost totally intercepted. The first, therefore, act like the heat of a lamp, and the last like that of boiling water.

These circumstances explain the phenomena observed by several philosophers with regard to the point of greatest heat in the solar spectrum, which varies with the substance of the prism. Sir William Herschel, who employed a prism of flint glass, found that point to be a little beyond the red extremity of the spectrum; but, according to M. Seebeck, it is found to be upon the yellow, upon the orange, on the red, or at the dark limit of the red, according as the prism consists of water, sulphuric acid, crown or flint glass. If it be recollected that, in the spectrum from crown glass, the maximum heat is in the red part, and that the solar rays, in traversing a mass of water, suffer losses inversely as their refrangibility, it will be easy to understand the reason of the phenomenon in question. The solar heat which


comes to the anterior face of the prism of water consists of rays of all degrees of refrangibility. Now, the rays possessing the same index of refraction with the red light suffer a greater loss in passing through the prism than the rays possessing the refrangibility of the orange light, and the latter lose less in their passage than the heat of the yellow. Thus the losses, being inversely proportional to the degree of refrangibility of each ray, cause the point of maximum heat to tend from the red towards the violet, and therefore it rests upon the yellow part. The prism of sulphuric acid, acting similarly, but with less energy than that of water, throws the point of greatest heat on the orange; for the same reason, the crown and flint glass prisms transfer that point respectively to the red and to its limit. M. Melloni, observing that the maximum point of heat is transferred farther and farther towards the red end of the spectrum, according as the substance of the prism is more and more permeable to heat, inferred that a prism of rock-salt, which possesses a greater power of transmitting the calorific rays than any known body, ought to throw the point of greatest heat to a considerable distance beyond the visible part of the spectrum,-an anticipation which experiment fully confirmed, by placing it as much beyond the dark limits of the red rays as the red part is distant from the blueish green band of the spectrum.

In all these experiments M. Melloni employed a thermomultiplier, -an instrument that measures the intensity of the transmitted heat with an accuracy far beyond what any thermometer ever attained. It is a very elegant application of M. Seebeck's discovery of thermo-electricity ; but the description of this instrument is reserved for a future occasion, because the principle on which it is constructed has not yet been explained.

In the beginning of the present century, not long after M. Malus had discovered the polarization of light, he and M. Berard proved that the heat which accompanies the sun's light is capable of being polarized ; but their attempts totally failed with heat derived from terrestrial, and especially from non-luminous

M. Berard, indeed, imagined that he had succeeded ; but, when his experiments were repeated by Mr. Lloyd and Professor Powell, no satisfactory result could be obtained. M. Melloni resumed the subject, and endeavoured to effect the polarization of heat by tourmaline, as in the case of light. It was



[ocr errors]

already shown that two slices of tourmaline, cut parallel to the axis of the crystal, transmit a great portion of the incident light when looked through with their axes parallel, and almost entirely exclude it when they are perpendicular to one another. Should radiant heat be capable of polarization, the quantity transmitted by the slices of tourmaline in their former position ought greatly to exceed that which passes through them in the latter, yet M. Melloni found that the quantity of heat was the same in both cases : whence he inferred that heat from a terrestrial source is incapable of being polarized. Professor Forbes of Edinburgh, who prosecuted this subject with great acuteness and success, came to the same conclusion in the first instance ; but it occurred to him, that, as the pieces of tourmaline became heated by being very near the lamp, the secondary radiation from them rendered the very small difference in the heat that was transmitted in the two positions of the pieces of tourmaline imperceptible. Nevertheless he succeeded in proving, by numerous observations, that heat from various sources is polarized by the tourmaline; but that the effect with non-luminous heat is very minute and difficult to perceive, on account of the secondary radiation. Though light is almost entirely excluded in one position of the pieces of tourmaline, and transmitted in the other, a vast quantity of radiant heat passes through them in all positions. Eighty-four per cent. of the heat from an argand lamp passed through them in the case where light was altogether. stopped. It is only the difference in the quantity of transmitted heat that gives evidence of its polarization. The second slice of tourmaline, when perpendicular to the first, stops all the light, but transmits a great proportion of heat; alum, on the contrary, stops almost all the heat, and transmits the light; whence it may be concluded that heat, though intimately partaking the nature of light, and accompanying it under certain circumstances, as in reflection and refraction, is capable of almost complete separation from it under others. The separation has since been perfectly effected by M. Melloni, by passing a beam of light through a combination of water and green glass, coloured by the oxide of copper, Even when the transmitted light was concentrated by lenses, so as to render it almost as brilliant as the direct light of the sun, it showed no sensible heat.

Professor Forbes next employed two bundles of laminæ of


mica, placed at the polarizing angle, and so cut that the plane of incidence of the heat corresponded with one of the optic axes of this mineral. The heat transmitted through this apparatus was polarized from a source whose temperature was even as low as 2000; heat was also polarized by reflection ; but the experiments, though perfectly successful, are more difficult to conduct.

It appears, from the various experiments of M. Melloni and Professor Forbes, that all the calorific rays emanating from the sun and terrestrial sources are equally capable of being polarized by reflection and by refraction, whether double or single, and that they are also capable of circular polarization by all the methods employed in the circular polarization of light. Plates of quartz cut at right angles to the axis of the prism possess the property of turning the calorific rays in one direction, while other plates of the same substance from a differently modified prism cause the rays to rotate in the contrary directicn; and two plates

1 combined, when of different affection, and of equal thickness, counteract each other's effects as in the case of light. Tourmaline separates the heat into two parts, one of which it absorbs, while it transmits the other ; in short, the transmission of radiant heat is precisely similar to that of light.

Since heat is polarized in the same manner as light, it may be expected that polarized heat transmitted through doubly refracting substances should be separated into two pencils, polarized in planes at right angles to each other; and that when received on an analyzing plate they should interfere and produce invisible phenomena, perfectly analogous to those described in Section XXII. with regard to light (N. 221).

It was shown, in the same section, that if light polarized by reflection from a pane of glass be viewed through a plate of tourmaline, with its longitudinal section vertical, an obscure cloud, with its centre wholly dark, is seen on the glass. When, however, a plate of mica uniformly about the thirteenth of an inch in thickness is interposed between the tourmaline and the glass, the dark spot vanishes, and a succession of very splendid colours are seen ; and, as the mica is turned round in a plane perpendicular to the polarized ray, the light is stopped when the plane containing the optic axis of the mica is parallel or perpendicular to the plane of polarization. Now, instead of light, if heat from


« PreviousContinue »