Letter | Published:

Polarisation of Light Scattered by Helium Atoms

Nature volume 104, page 412 (25 December 1919) | Download Citation



ABOUT a year and a half ago I published an experimental investigation of the degree of polarisation in the light scattered at right angles by various dust-free gases (Proc. Roy. Soc., A, vol. xcv., p. 155). I believe the results then obtained to be in the main quite correct, but there is an important point on which I have completely to withdraw what I then said. This refers to the results on helium, which was then found to behave differently from the other gases, giving much less complete polarisation than any of them. The result given was that the weak image (vibrations parallel to incident beam) had 42 per cent. of the intensity of the strong image (perpendicular vibrations). This was given on the results of two independent series of photographs, which were, indeed, obtained under conditions much more difficult than those for the common, gases, but were considered at the time to give adequate evidence. I do not even now know what was wrong with them; but on repeating the work with a much improved apparatus, which it has taken many months to design and construct, I have obtained an entirely different, I might say opposite, result.

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