Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/70

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is tinted with color, which is most brilliant when the plate has been turned through half a right angle from a neutral position. If one of the Nicols be turned, the selenite remaining still, the color will fade and entirely vanish when the Nicol has turned through half a right angle. After this position the complementary color will begin to appear, and will be brightest when the Nicol has completed a right angle.

The colors so produced depend upon the thickness of the plate; thus, if we take a plate of selenite merely split and not ground to a uniform thickness, we shall have a variety of tints indicating the thickness of each particular part; or we may, by a careful arrangement of suitable thicknesses, produce a colored pattern of delicacy and variety dependent only upon the skill with which the pieces have been worked.

A plate of the same crystal worked into a concave form is interesting as showing not only that the colors are dependent upon the thickness, but also that when, with an increasing or diminishing thickness of crystal, they have run through their cycle, they begin again; in other words, that the phenomenon is periodic. The field is then covered with a series of concentric rings, each of which is tinted with colors in a regular order.

In all these instances it is clear, from the experiments themselves, as well as from other experiments which form no part of our present subject, that the modifications which light undergoes are due to the internal structure of the crystals used. And it becomes a question of interest whether it be not possible, by some mechanical process, performed upon a non-cystalline substance, such as glass, so far to imitate a crystalline structure as to reproduce some of the optical results already shown. For this purpose let us take a bar of glass. On interposing it in its natural state between the Nicols when crossed, we find that no effect is produced in the dark field upon the screen. If, however, I merely press it as though with the intention of bending or breaking it, there will be at once brought about a condition of strain capable of affecting the vibrations of the ray falling upon it, to such a degree that some of them will find their way through the screen. And this result may be explained on precisely the same mechanical principles as in the case of the crystal. The effect may be heightened by placing the piece of glass in a vice, and screwing it up so as to bend or compress it to a greater degree than was possible by the hand alone. When this is done the direction and even the relative amount of torsion or compression of the different parts will be noted down as it were by the forms and hues of the figures thrown upon the screen.

The same kind of effect is shown by a piece of glass unevenly heated; but better still by glass which has been rapidly and unevenly cooled—unannealed glass, as it is called. In the pieces now before you, the outside, having become first cooled and solidified, has formed a rigid framework, to which all the interior has been obliged to con-