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The Colours of Thin Plates1

Nature volume 36, page 391 | Download Citation



THE physical theory, as founded by Young and perfected by his successors, shows how to ascertain the composition of the light reflected from a plate of given material and thickness when the incident light is white; but it does not and cannot tell us, except very roughly, what the colour of the light of such composition will be. For this purpose we must call to our aid the theory of compound colours, and such investigations as were made by Maxwell upon the chromatic relations of the spectrum colours themselves. Maxwell found that on Newton's chromatic diagram the curve representative of the spectrum takes approximately the simple form of two sides of a triangle, of which the angular points represent a definite red, a definite green, and a definite violet. The statement implies that yellow is a compound colour, a mixture of red and green.

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