Page:1860 Fizeau en.djvu/14

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that the change is great for highly refracting bodies, but small for feebly refracting ones such as air.

I was thus led to anticipate a sensible displacement of the bands by means of the motion of water, since its index of refraction greatly exceeds that of air.

It is true that an experiment of Babinet's, mentioned in the ninth volume of the Comptes Rendus, appeared to be in contradiction to the hypothesis of a change in the velocity of light in accordance with the law of Fresnel. But on considering the conditions of that experiment, I detected the existence of a cause of compensation whose influence would render the effect due to motion insensible. This cause proceeds from the reflexion which the light suffers in the experiment in question. It may, in fact, be demonstrated that if a certain difference of path exists between two rays, that difference becomes altered when these rays suffer reflexion from a moving mirror. Now on calculating separately the two effects (of reflexion) in the experiment of Babinet, their magnitudes will be found to be equal and opposite in sign.

This explanation rendered the hypothesis of a change of velocity still more probable, and induced me to undertake the experiment with water, as being the most suitable one for deciding the question with certainty.

The success of this experiment must, I think, lead to the adoption of the hypothesis of Fresnel, or at least to that of the law discovered by him, which expresses the relation between the change of velocity and the motion of the body; for although the fact of this law being found to be true constitutes a strong argument in favour of the hypothesis of which it is a mere consequence, yet to many the conception of Fresnel will doubtless still appear both extraordinary and, in some respects, improbable; and before it can be accepted as the expression of the real state of things, additional proofs will be demanded from the physicist, as well as a thorough examination of the subject from the mathematician.


Shortly before the publication of the above interesting memoir in the Annales de Chimie, M. Fizeau presented to the Academy a second memoir, containing the results of his experiments on the effect of the motion of a transparent solid body, such as glass, upon the velocity with which it is traversed by light. The Comptes Rendus of November 14th, 1859, contains a brief extract from this memoir; and from it we gather the principal results of his experiments, and the principles upon which the same were based.

The method of experiment which was employed in the foregoing