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The Royal Society—Address of the President1

Nature volume 23, pages 135137 | Download Citation



II. THE aspect of spectrum analysis has become much complicated by two sets of facts. First, the increased dispersion, the improved definition, the enlarged electrical power at our command, and, above all, the substitution of photography for eye observations, have revealed to us an almost overwhelming array of lines belonging to each substance. And, secondly, the same means have shown that many substances present different spectra when in different molecular states. These complications have led spectroscopists to seek some relief in theories of simplification. Lecoq de Boisbaudran, Stoney, Soret, and others have suggested that many of the lines, or groups of lines, may be regarded as the harmonics of a fundamental vibration; and they have shown that in certain cases this view will account for the phenomena observed. Professors Liveing and Dewar have contributed largely to the subject by their observations on the reversed lines. Looking in another direction, Mr. Lockyer considers that in increased temperature we have the means not only of resolving compound bodies into their elements, but even of dissociating bodies hitherto regarded as elementary into still more simple substances. There still remain serious difficulties connected with Mr. Lockyer's views; but it is to be hoped that his indefatigable energy will in some way or other ultimately overcome them.

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