"N" Rays/On a New Species of "N" Rays

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On a New Species of "N" Rays (February 29, 1904).

Observations made during a very complex experiment, which I owe to Dr. Th. Guidloz, led me to suspect the existence of a variety of "N" rays, which, instead of increasing, on the contrary, diminished the glow of a feeble luminous source. I undertook to search for rays of this type amongst those emitted by a Nernst lamp. While previously studying the spectrum of this emission, produced by an aluminium prism, I had not met with such radiations. I consequently thought that there were reasons for studying anew, and still more minutely, the feebly deviated part of the spectrum. On

exploring this region, by means of a narrow slit filled with phosphorescent calcium sulphide, I ascertained, without any difficulty, that, in certain azimuths, the glow of the spark diminished under the action of the rays, and increased, on the contrary, when they were intercepted by a wet screen. These were, in fact, the looked-for radiations; I will call them "N1" rays.

Although the aluminium prism of 27° 15′ I used previously is suitable for these experiments, nevertheless, in order to increase the dispersion, I used an aluminium prism of 60°, and afterwards another of 90°. With the help of the latter, I very carefully studied the feebly deviated part of the spectrum. The prism was arranged so that the angle of incidence was 20°; for each radiation, the deviation was measured and the refractive index deduced; then the wave-length was determined by means of a Brunner grating of 200 lines to the millimetre, by the process already described (see p. 57). The following table gives the numbers which result from this study, and were used for constructing the diagram (Fig. 10), in which the abscissæ stand for the wave-lengths and the ordinates for the indices diminished by unity.

Nature of
the rays.
Indices. Wave-lengths.
N1 1.004 0.003
N 1.0064 0.0048
N1 1.0096 0.0056
N 1.011 0.0067
N1 1.0125 0.0074
N 1.029 0.0083
N 1.041 0.0081

Each of the divisions marked on the axis of abscissae corresponds to 0.001, and each of the divisions marked on the ordinate axis corresponds to an excess over unity equal to 0.01.

In spite of all the care with which the experiments were executed, the deviations are so small, and, consequently, the indices so near to unity, that the table and diagram can only be regarded as a preliminary indication of the behaviour of the dispersion in the very slightly deviated part of the spectrum. An important consequence arises from these measures, viz. points corresponding to "N" rays, and those corresponding to N1 rays, are all situate on the same curve, within the limits of experimental error. The study of radiations still less refrangible than those I have dwelt on appeared to me impracticable. To avoid confusion, I was obliged to adopt a very large scale for the ordinates; this is why I could not plot on the diagram the results of my former measurements of the more refrangible "N" rays (loc. cit.). These results give points situated on a branch of the curve, starting from the topmost point on the right, and rising almost vertically, with a feeble inclination, from bottom to top, and from right to left, and a slight convexity turned upwards.

Certain sources seem to emit N1 rays exclusively, or, at least, these rays predominate in the emission. This is the case with copper and silver wire, and with hard-drawn platinum wire. M. Bichat has observed that ethylic ether, when brought to the state of forced extension, by the process discovered by M. Berthelot, emits N1 rays. When this state of strain ceases, whether spontaneously or under the action of a slight blow, the emission of N1 rays immediately disappears.

N1 rays can be stored up like "N" rays. For instance, one need only bring a bit of stretched copper wire in proximity to a lump of quartz to make the quartz emit N1 rays for some time after.