Page:1860 Fizeau en.djvu/3

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proportional to the refracting index. Arago and Fresnel have both shown the extraordinary sensitiveness of this method by several very delicate observations, such as that on the difference of refraction between dry and moist air.

A method of observation founded upon this principle appeared to me to be the only one capable of rendering evident any change of velocity due to motion. It consists in obtaining interference bands by means of two rays of light after their passage through two parallel tubes, through which air or water can be made to flow with great velocity in opposite directions. The especial object before me necessitated several new arrangements, which I proceed to indicate.

With respect to the intensity of light, formidable difficulties had necessarily to be encountered. The tubes, which were of glass and 5-3 millims. in diameter, had to be traversed by light along their centres, and not near their sides; the two slits, therefore, had to be placed much further apart than is ordinarily the case, on which account the light would, in the absence of a special contrivance, have been very feeble at the point where the interference bands are produced.

This inconvenience was made to disappear by placing a convergent lens behind the two slits; the bands were then observed at the point of concourse of the two rays, where the intensity of light was very considerable.

The length of the tubes being tolerably great, 1.487 metre, it was to be feared that some difference of temperature or pressure between the two tubes might give rise to a considerable displacement of the bands, and thus completely mask the displacement due to motion.

This difficulty was avoided by causing the two rays to return towards the tubes by means of a telescope carrying a mirror at its focus. In this manner each ray is obliged to traverse the two tubes successively, so that the two rays having travelled over exactly the same path, but in opposite directions, any effect due to difference of pressure or temperature must necessarily be eliminated by compensation. By means of various tests I assured myself that this compensation was complete, and that whatever change in the temperature or density of the medium might be produced in a single tube, the bands would preserve exactly the same position. According to this arrangement, the bands had to be observed at the point of departure itself of the rays: solar light was admitted laterally, and was directed towards the tubes by means of reflexion from a transparent mirror; after their double journey through the tubes, the rays returned and traversed the mirror before reaching the place of interference, where the bands were observed by means of a graduated eye-piece.