Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/669

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

OCTOBER, 1876.


 

THE CONSTANTS OF COLOR.
By Prof. O. N. ROOD,

OF COLUMBIA COLLEGE.

THE tints produced by Nature and art are so manifold, often so vague and indefinite, so affected by their environment, or by the illumination under which they are seen, that at first it might well appear as though nothing about them were constant; as though they had no fixed properties which could be used in reducing them to order, and in arranging in a simple but vast series the immense multitude of which they consist.

Let us examine the matter more closely. We have seen that when a single set of waves acts on the eye a color-sensation is produced, which is perfectly well defined, and which can be indicated with precision by referring it to some portion of the spectrum. We have also found that, when waves of light having all possible lengths act on the eye simultaneously, the sensation of white is produced. Let us suppose that by the first method a definite color-sensation is generated, and afterward by the second method the sensation of white is added to it: white light is added to or mixed with colored light. This mixture may be accomplished with an ordinary spectroscope, by removing the scale from the scale-telescope, and replacing it by a vertical slit, as indicated in Fig. 1, which is a view from above. Then, if white light be allowed to enter this slit, it will be reflected from the surface of the prism into the observing-telescope, and we shall find that the spectrum is crossed by a vertical band of white light. By moving with the hand the scale-telescope, this white band may be made to travel slowly over the whole spectrum, and furnish us with a series of mixtures of white light with the various prismatic tints. (See Fig. 2.) The general effect of this proceeding will be to diminish the action of the colored light; the resultant light will indeed pre-