Page:1860 Fizeau en.djvu/16

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sufficient to produce a change in the rotation of the plane of polarization equal to \tfrac{1}{1500}th part of the magnitude of that rotation.

In order to test this result by experiment, a series of glass plates were interposed in the path of a polarized beam of parallel rays of light. The primitive plane of polarization was determined by a divided circle, and the rotation which this plane underwent by the action of the plates was measured by means of a second graduated circle fixed to a convenient analyser. The instrument could, moreover, be fixed in any direction so as to study the influence of all terrestrial motions upon the phænomena.

In order to make the two necessary observations conveniently and rapidly, two mirrors were previously fixed on the east and on the west of the instrument, and upon each, alternately, a beam of solar light was thrown by means of a heliostat, and thence reflected towards the instrument.

The greatest difficulties were encountered in the annealing of the glass plates of the series; and as perfectly homogeneous plates could not be obtained, it was necessary to employ various compensating expedients, all which will be found described in the memoir itself.

The conclusions to which M. Fizeau was led by means of more than 2000 observations are thus stated: —

1. The rotation of the plane of polarization produced by a series of inclined glass plates is always greater when the light which traverses them comes from the west than when it comes from the east; the observation being made about noon.

2. This excess of rotation is decidedly at a maximum at or about noon during the solstices. Before and after this hour it is less, and at about 4 o'clock is scarcely perceptible.

3. The numerical values deduced from the numerous series of observations present notable differences, the cause of which may be guessed, though it cannot yet be determined with certitude.

4. The influence of the earth's annual motion, as determined by calculation on the hypothesis of Fresnel, leads to values of the above excess of rotation which agree tolerably well with the majority of the values deduced from observation.

5. Theory, as well as experiment, therefore, lead us to conclude that the azimuth of the plane of polarization of a refracted ray is really influenced by the motion of the refracting medium, and that the motion of the earth in space exerts an influence of this kind upon the rotation of the plane of polarization produced by a series of inclined glass plates.