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Originally appearing in Volume V23, Page 29 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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REOUETMEI1101X .130 1.35 1.40 545 - 1.50 - 1.55 1.60 1.65 570 1.76 most valuable in distinguishing the precious stones. It consists of a hemisphere of very dense glass, having its plane surface fixed at a certain angle to the axis of the instrument. Light is admitted by a window on the under side, which is inclined at the same angle, but in the opposite sense, to the axis. The light on emerging from the hemisphere is received by a convex lens, in the focal plane of which is a scale graduated to read directly in refractive indices. The light then traverses a positive eye-piece. To use the instrument for a gem, a few drops of methylene iodide (the refractive index of which may be raised to 1.800 by dissolving sulphur in it) are placed on the plane surface of the hemisphere and a facet of the stone then brought into contact with the surface. If mono-chromatic light be used (i.e. the D line of the sodium flame) the field is sharply divided into a light and a dark portion, and the position of the line of demarcation on the scale immediately gives the refractive index. It is necessary for the liquid to have a higher refractive index than the crystal, and also that there is close con-tact between the facet and the lens. The range of the instrument is between 1.400 and I.76o, the results being correct to two units in the third decimal place if sodium light be used. (C. E.*) II. DOUBLE REFRACTION That a stream of light on entry into certain media can give rise to two refracted pencils was discovered in the case of Iceland spar by Erasmus Bartholinus, who found that one pencil had a direction given by the ordinary law of refraction, but that the other was bent in accordance with a new law that he was unable to determine. This law was discovered about eight years later by Christian Huygens. According to Huygens' fundamental principle, the law of refraction is determined by the form and orientation of the wave-surface in the crystal—the locus of points to which a disturbance emanating from a luminous point travels in unit time. In the case of a doubly refracting medium the wave-surface must have two sheets, one of which is spherical, if one of the pencils obey in all cases the ordinary law of refraction. Now Huygens observed that a natural crystal of spar behaves in precisely the same way which-ever pair of faces the light passes through, and inferred from this fact that the second sheet of the wave-surface must be a surface of revolution round a line equally inclined to the faces of the rhomb, i.e. round the axis of the crystal. He accordingly assumed it to be a spheroid, and finding that refraction in the direction of the axis was the same for both streams, he concluded that the sphere and the spheroid touched one another in the axis. So far as his experimental means permitted, Huygens verified the law of refraction deduced from this hypothesis, but its correctness remained unrecognized until the measures of W. H. Wollaston in 18oz and of E. T. Malus in 181o. More recently its truth has been established with far more perfect optical appliances by R. T. Glazebrook, Ch. S. Hastings and others. In the case of Iceland spar and several other crystals the extraordinarily refracted stream is refracted away from the axis, but Jean Baptiste Biot in 1814 discovered that in many cases the reverse occurs, and attributing the extraordinary refractions to forces that act as if they emanated from the axis, he called crystals of the latter kind " attractive," those of the former " repulsive." They are now termed " positive " and " negative " respectively; and Huygens' law applies to both classes, the spheroid being prolate in the case of positive, and oblate in the case of negative crystals. It was at first supposed that Huygens' law applied to all doubly refracting media. Sir David Brewster, however, in 1815, while examining the rings that are seen round the optic axis in polarized light, discovered a number of crystals that possess two optic axes. He showed, moreover, that such crystals belong to the rhombic, monoclinic and anorthic (triclinic) systems, those of the tetragonal and hexagonal systems being uniaxal, and those of the cubic system being optically isotropic. Huygens found in the course of his researches that the streams that had traversed a rhomb of Iceland spar had acquired new properties with respect to transmission through a second crystal. This phenomenon is called polarization (q.v.), and the waves are said to be polarized—the ordinary in its principal plane and the extraordinary in a plane perpendicular to its principal plane, the principal plane of a wave being the plane containing its normal and the axis of the crystal. From the facts of polarization Augustin Jean Fresnel deduced that the vibrations in plane polarized light are rectilinear and in the plane of the wave, and arguing from the symmetry of uniaxal crystals that vibrations perpendicular to the axis are propagated with the same speed in all directions, he pointed out that this would explain the existence of an ordinary wave, and the relation between its speed and that of the extraordinary wave. From these ideas Fresnel was forced to the conclusion, that he at once verified experimentally, that in biaxal crystals there is no spherical wave, since there is no single direction round which such crystals are symmetrical; and, recognizing the difficulty of a direct determination of the wave-surface, he attempted to represent the laws of double refraction by the aid of a simpler surface. The essential problem is the determination of the propagational speeds of plane waves as dependent upon the directions of their normals. These being known, the deduction of the wave-surface follows at once, since it is to be regarded as the envelope at any subsequent time of all the plane waves that at a given instant may be supposed to pass through a given point, the ray corresponding to any tangent plane or the direction of transport of energy being by Huygens' principle the radius-vector from the centre to the point of contact. Now Fresnel perceived that in uniaxal crystals the speeds of plane waves in any direction are by Huygens' law the reciprocals of the semi-axes of the central section, parallel to the wave-fronts, of a spheroid, whose polar and equatorial axes are the reciprocals of the equatorial and polar axes of the spheroidal sheet of Huygens' wave-surface, and that the plane of polarization of a wave is perpendicular to the axis that determines its speed. Hence it occurred to him that similar relations with respect to an ellipsoid with three unequal axes would give the speeds and polarizations of the waves in a biaxal crystal, and the results thus deduced he found to be in accordance with all known facts. This ellipsoid is called the ellipsoid of polarization, the index ellipsoid and the indicatrix. We may go a step further; for by considering the intersection of a wave-front with two waves, whose normals are indefinitely near that of the first and lie in planes perpendicular and parallel respectively to its plane of polarization, it is easy to show that the ray corresponding to the wave is parallel to the line in which the former of the two planes intersects the tangent plane to the ellipsoid at the end of the semi-diameter that determines the wave-velocity; and it follows by similar triangles that the ray-velocity is the reciprocal of the length of the perpendicular from the centre on this tangent plane. The laws of double refraction are thus contained in the following proposition. The propagational speed of a plane wave in any direction is given by the reciprocal of one of the semi-axes of the central section of the ellipsoid of polarization parallel to the wave; the plane of polarization of the wave is perpendicular to this axis; the corresponding ray is parallel to the line of intersection of the tangent plane at the end of the axis and the plane containing the axis and the wave-normal; the ray-velocity is the reciprocal of the length of the perpendicular from the centre on the tangent plane. By reciprocating with respect to a sphere of unit radius concentric with the ellipsoid, we obtain a similar proposition in which the ray takes the place of the wave-normal, the ray-velocity that of the wave-slowness (the reciprocal of the velocity) and vice versa. The wave-surface is thus the apsidal surface of the reciprocal ellipsoid; this gives the simplest means of obtaining its equation, and it is readily seen that its section by each plane of optical symmetry consists of an ellipse and a circle, and that in the plane of greatest and least wave-velocity these curves intersect in four points. The radii-vectors to these points are called the ray-axes. When the wave-front is parallel to either system of circular sections of the ellipsoid of polarization, the problem of finding the axes of the parallel central section becomes indeterminate, and all waves in this direction are propagated with the same speed, whatever may be their polarization. The normals to the circular sections are thus the optic axes. To determine the rays corresponding to an optic axis, we may note that the rayand the perpendiculars to it through the centre, in planes perpendicular and parallel to that of the ray and the optic axis, are three lines intersecting at right angles of which the two latter are confined to given planes, viz. the central circular section of the ellipsoid and the normal section of the cylinder touching the ellipsoid along this section: whence by a known proposition the ray describes a cone whose sections parallel to the given planes are circles. Thus a plane perpendicular to the optic axis touches the wave-surface along a circle. Similarly the normals to the circular sections of the reciprocal ellipsoid, or the axes of the tangent cylinders to the polarization-ellipsoid that have circular normal sections, are directions of single-ray velocity or ray-axes, and it may be shown as above that corresponding to a ray-axis there is a cone of wave-normals with circular sections parallel to the normal section of the corresponding tangent cylinder, and its plane of contact with the ellipsoid. Hence the extremities of the ray-axes are conical points on the wave-surface. These peculiarities of the wave-surface are the cause of the celebrated conical refractions discovered by Sir William Rowan Hamilton and H. Lloyd, which afford a decisive proof of the general correctness of Fresnel's wave-surface, though they cannot, as Sir G. Gabriel Stokes (Math. and Phys. Papers, iv. 184) has pointed out, be employed to decide between theories that lead to this surface as a near approximation. In general, both the direction and the magnitude of the axes of the polarization-ellipsoid depend upon the frequency of the light and upon the temperature, but in many cases the possible variations are limited by considerations of symmetry. Thus the optic axis of a uniaxal crystal is invariable, being deter-mined by the principal axis of the system to which it belongs: most crystals are of the same sign for all colours, the refractive indices and their difference both increasing with the frequency, but a few crystals are of opposite sign for the extreme spectral colours, becoming isotropic for some intermediate wave-length. In crystals of the rhombic system the axes of the ellipsoid coincide in all cases with the crystallographic axes, but in a few cases their order of magnitude changes so that the plane of the optic axes for red light is at right angles to that for blue light, the crystal being uniaxal for an intermediate colour. In the case of the monoclinic system one axis is in the direction of the axis of the system, and this is generally, though there are notable exceptions, either the greatest, the least, or the intermediate axis of the ellipsoid for all colours and temperatures. In the latter case the optic axes are in the plane of symmetry, and a variation of their acute bisectrix occasions the phenomenon known as " inclined dispersion ": in the two former cases the plane of the optic axes is perpendicular to the plane of symmetry, and if it vary with the colour of the light, the crystals exhibit " crossed " or " horizontal dispersion " according as it is the acute or the obtuse bisectrix that is in the fixed direction. The optical constants of a crystal may be determined either with a prism or by observations of total reflection. In the latter case the phenomenon is characterized by two angles—the critical angle and the angle between the plane of incidence and the line limiting the region of total reflection in the field of view. With any crystalline surface there are four cases in which this latter angle is 9 0, and the principal refractive indices of the crystal are obtained from those calculated from the corresponding critical angles, by excluding that one of the mean values for which the plane of polarization of the limiting rays is perpendicular to the plane of incidence. A difficulty, however, may arise when the crystalline surface is very nearly the plane of the optic axes, as the plane of polarization in the second mean case is then also very nearly perpendicular to the plane of incidence; but since the two mean refractive indices will be very different, the ambiguity can be removed by making, as may easily be done, an approximate measure of the angle between the optic axes and comparing it with the values calculated by using in turn each of these indices (C. M. Viola, Zeit. fur Kryst., 1902, 36, p. 245). A substance originally isotropic can acquire the optical properties of a crystal under the influence of homogeneous strain, the principal axes of the wave-surface being parallel to those of the strain, and the medium being uniaxal, if the strain be symmetrical. John Kerr also found that a dielectric under electric stress behaves as an uniaxal crystal with its optic axis parallel to the electric force, glass acting as a negative and bisulphide of carbon as a positive crystal (Phil. Hag., 1875 (4), L. 337). Not content with determining the laws of double refraction, Fresnel also attempted to give their mechanical explanation. He supposed that the aether consists of a system of distinct material points symmetrically arranged and acting on one another by forces that depend for a given pair only on their distance. If in such a system a single molecule be displaced, the projection of the force of restitution on the direction of displacement is proportional to the inverse square of the parallel radius-vector of an ellipsoid; and of all displacements that can occur in a given plane, only those in the direction of the axes of the parallel central section of the quadric develop forces whose projection on the plane is along the displacement. In undulations, however, we are concerned with the elastic forces due to relative displacements, and, accordingly, Fresnel assumed that the forces called into play during the propagation of a system of plane waves (of rectilinear transverse vibrations) differ from those developed by the parallel displacement of a single molecule only by a constant factor, independent of the plane of the wave. Next, regarding the aether as incompressible, he assumed that the components of the elastic forces parallel to the wave-front are alone operative, and finally, on the analogy of a stretched string, that the propagational speed of a plane wave of permanent type is proportional to the square root of the effective force developed by the vibrations. With these hypotheses we immediately obtain the laws of double refraction, as given by the ellipsoid of polarization, with the result that the vibrations are perpendicular to the plane of polarization. In its dynamical foundations Fresnel's theory, though of considerable historical interest, is clearly defective in rigour, and a strict treatment of the aether as a crystalline elastic solid does not lead naturally to Fresnel's laws of double refraction. On the other hand, Lord Kelvin's rotational aether (Math. and Phys. Papers, iii. 442)—a medium that has no true rigidity but possesses a quasi-rigidity due to elastic resistance to absolute rotation—gives these laws at once, if we abolish the resistance to compression and, regarding it as gyrostatically isotropic, attribute to it aeolotropic inertia. The equations then obtained are the same as those deduced in the electro-magnetic theory from the circuital laws of A. M. Ampere and Michael Faraday, when the specific inductive capacity is supposed aeolotropic. In order to account for dispersion, it is necessary to take into account the interaction with the radiation of the intra-molecular vibrations of the crystalline substance: thus the total current on the electro-magnetic theory must be regarded as made up of the current of displacement and that due to the oscillations of the electrons within the molecules of the crystal. Optics (1904) ; R. W. Wood, Physical Optics (1905) ; E. Mascart, Traite d'optique (1889) ; A. Winkelmann, Handbuch der Physik. (J. WAL.*) The refraction of a ray of light by the atmosphere as it passes from a heavenly body to an observer on the earth's surface, is called "astronomical." A knowledge of its amount is a necessary datum in the exact determination of the direction of the body. In its investigation the fundamental hypothesis is that the strata of the air are in equilibrium, which implies that the surfaces of equal density are horizontal. But this condition is being continually disturbed by aerial currents, which produce continual slight fluctuations in the actual refraction, and commonly give to the image of a star a tremulous motion. Except for this slight motion the refraction is always in the vertical direction; that is, the actual zenith distance of the star is always greater than its apparent distance. The refracting power of the air is nearly proportional to its density. Consequently the amount of the refraction varies with the temperature and barometric pressure, being greater the higher the barometer and the lower the temperature. At moderate zenith distances, the amount of the refraction varies nearly as the tangent of the zenith distance. Under ordinary conditions of pressure and temperature it is, near the zenith, about 1" for each degree of zenith distance. As the tangent increases at a greater rate than the angle, the increase of the refraction soon exceeds 1" for each degree. At 450 from the zenith the tangent is 1 and the mean refraction is about 58". As the horizon is approached the tangent increases more and more rapidly, becoming infinite at the horizon; but the re-fraction now increases at a less rate, and, when the observed ray is horizontal, or when the object appears on the horizon, the refraction is about 34', or a little greater than the diameter of the sun or moon. It follows that when either of these objects is seen on the horizon their actual direction is entirely below it. One result is that the length of the day is increased by refraction to the extent of about five minutes in low latitudes, and still more in higher latitudes. At 6o° the increase is about nine minutes. The atmosphere, like every other transparent substance, refracts the blue rays of the spectrum more than the red; consequently, when the image of a star near the horizon is observed with a telescope, it presents somewhat the appearance of a spectrum. The edge which is really highest, but seems lowest in the telescope, is blue, and the opposite one red. When the atmosphere is steady this atmospheric spectrum is very marked and renders an exact observation of the star difficult. Among the tables of refraction which have been most used are Bessel's, derived from the observations of Bradley in Bessel's Fundamenta Astronomiae; and Bessel's revised tables in his Tabulae Regiomontanae, in which, however, the constant is too large, but which in an expanded form were mostly used at the observatories until 187o. The constant use of the Poulkova tables, Tabulae refractionum, which is reduced to nearly its true value, has gradually replaced that of Bessel. Later tables are those of L. de Ball, published at Leipzig in 1906. (S. N.)
End of Article: REOUETMEI1101X
JAMES RENWICK (1662–1688)

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