SR-34-Newton-light - Newton’s experimental proof that...

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Newton on Light and Color In early 1660s, while a student at Cambridge, Newton took up the study of light and color. Projected a beam of sunlight through a prism onto a wall; noticed that the resulting colored image ( spectrum ) was not round, but oblong: red at the least bent end, violet at the most bent. Conjectured that white light was not pure , but instead a mixture of differently colored rays, each with its own characteristic refrangibility . To prove this, Newton had to show: 1) that his analysis was complete (that is, when he sent a colored ray through a second prism, it was not separated further, just bent more), and 2) that he could resynthesize white light (that is, when he used a lens to bring differently colored rays back together, they made white light).
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Unformatted text preview: Newton’s experimental proof that white light was a mixture of colored rays was independent of any theory about the physical nature of light (wave, particle, etc.). In 1668 Newton’s work on refraction led him to invent the reflecting telescope as a way to avoid chromatic aberration . Word of his invention reached the Royal Society of London in 1671 and soon made Newton famous. In 1672 Newton published his ‘ Theory of Colors ’ in the Phil. Trans. His claims about the composite nature of white light led him into controversies with Robert Hooke and others. Exasperated, Newton threatened to withdraw from public scientific life; by 1678 he had largely done so....
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This note was uploaded on 12/03/2011 for the course HISTORY 322D taught by Professor Hunt during the Fall '11 term at University of Texas.

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