The controversy between the wave theory and the emission theory of light early in the nineteenth century has been a subject of numerous studies. Yet many is- sues remain unclear, in particular, the reasons for rejecting Young's theory of light. It appears that further progress in the field requires a better grasp of the overall situation in optics and related subjects at the time and a more thorough study of every factor suggested to be of importance for the dispute. This book is intended to be a step in this direction. It examines the impact of the concept of interference of light on the development of the early nineteenth- century optics in general, and the theory of light, in particular. This is not a his- tory of the wave theory of light, nor is it a history of the debate on the nature of light in general: it covers only that part of the controversy which involved the concept of interference. Although the book deals with a number of scientists, scientific institutions, and journals, its main character is a scientific concept, the principle of interference.
While discussing the reasons for accepting or rejecting this concept I have primarily focused on scientific factors, although in some cases the human factor is examined as well. The book is a revised Ph. D. dissertation (University of Minnesota, 1984) writ- ten under Alan E. Shapiro.
I Interference historiography and physics.- I.1 The "mystery" of Young's theory.- I.2 New approach.- I.3 What is "Young's wave theory"?.- I.4 "Interference" or "superposition"?.- I.5 What is the "acceptance of a theory"?.- II Thomas Young and the problem of intersecting sounds.- Section I: Young.- II. 1 What did Young discover about interference?.- II.2 Young on interference of sound.- Section II: Young's predecessors.- II.3 Reinforcement of sound.- II.4 Destruction of sound.- II.5 Do intersecting sound waves interact?.- II.6 Mathematical approach to independence of sound.- II.7 Harmonics.- II.8 The third sound.- II.9 Summary.- III Young on interference of mechanical waves.- III.1 Standing waves.- III.2 Tides.- III.3 Coherence of mechanical waves.- III.4 Response to the concept of interference of sound.- a) Robison.- b) Gough.- c) Later response.- III.5 Summary.- IV Discovery of the principle of interference of light.- IV.1 Optical background.- IV.2 Transition from acoustics to optics.- IV.3 The problem of mathematical representation of light.- IV.4 What is the "law of interference"?.- IV.5 The principle of interference and the theory of interference.- V Young's theory of interference and its application.- Section I: Interference of reflected and refracted light.- V.1 The colors of thin films.- V.2 The colors of the "thick plates".- V.3 The colors of the "mixed plates".- V.4 The colors of supernumerary rainbows.- Section II: Interference of diffracted light.- V.5 The colors of striated surfaces.- V.6 Diffraction of light by a narrow body: internal fringes.- V.7 Diffraction of light by a narrow body: external fringes.- V.8 The two-slit experiment.- Section III: Young on coherence of light.- V.9 The condition of frequency.- V.10 The condition of direction.- V.11 The condition of path difference.- V.12 The condition of a common origin.- V.13 The condition of the size of a light source.- V.14 Summary.- VI Response to the principle of interference (1801-1815).- VI.1 Early comments(1801-1805):generalsurvey.- VI.2 British reviews of Young's theory(1801-1805).- a) "Non-experts".- b) The Critical Review.- c) The Monthly Review.- d) The Edinburgh Magazine.- e) The Edinburgh Review.- VI.3 Later response (1807-1815).- VI.4 Summary.- VII Fresnel and the principle of interference.- VII.1 First period(1815-1816).- a) Rediscovery of the principle of interference of light.- b) Diffraction by a narrow body.- c) Reflection and refraction of light.- d) Other applications.- e) Early definitions of the principle of interference and conditions of coherence.- VII.2 Second period (1816-1818).- VII.3 Third period (1819-1822).- VII.4 Summary.- VIII Response to Fresnel's principle of interference.- VIII.1 Arago.- VIII.2 Reception of Fresnel's first paper.- VIII.3 Contest on diffraction.- VIII.4 Response to Fresnel's prize-winning memoir.- VIII.5 Principle of interference and the wave theory.- VIII.6 Principle of interference and the emission theory.- VIII.7 Understanding of coherence after Fresnel.- VIII.8 Young's role after 1815.- VIII.9 Summary.- Conclusions.
Series: Science Networks. Historical Studies
Number Of Pages: 271
Published: October 2009
Publisher: Birkhauser Verlag AG
Country of Publication: CH
Dimensions (cm): 25.4 x 17.8
Weight (kg): 1.54