Transparency and Opacity1

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    ONE kind of opacity is due to absorption; but the lecture dealt rather with that deficiency of transparency which depends upon irregular reflections and refractions. One of the best examples is that met with in Christiansen's experiment. Powdered glass, all from one piece and free from dirt, is placed in a bottle with parallel flat sides. In this state it is quite opaque; but if the interstices between the fragments are filled up with a liquid mixture of bisulphide of carbon and benzole, carefully adjusted so as to be of equal refractivity with the glass, the mass becomes optically homogeneous, and therefore transparent. In consequence, however, of the different dispersive powers of the two substances, the adjustment is good for one part only of the spectrum, other parts being scattered in transmission much as if no liquid were employed, though, of course, in a less degree. The consequence is that a small source of light, backed preferably by a dark ground, is seen in its natural outlines but strongly coloured. The colour depends upon the precise composition of the liquid, and further varies with the temperature, a few degrees of warmth sufficing to cause a transition from red through yellow to green.

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    Transparency and Opacity1. Nature 60, 64–65 (1899) doi:10.1038/060064b0

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