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Treatise on Light

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By: (1629-1695)

Treatise on Light was published in 1690 and is probably the largest scientific volume on light published before Newton's Opticks. The book explains how light travels (i.e., that it has a certain velocity), and what happens when it hits a surface (refraction and reflection). A large portion of the book is devoted to the double refraction occurring in Iceland chrystal, and all drawn conclusions are proved geometrically.

Christiaan Huygens (1629 - 1695) was a prominent physicist and astronomer. His main discoveries are the centrifugal force, collision laws for bodies and the argument that light consists of waves. He was a contemporary of Galilei and Descartes, and a member of the French Royal Society since 1663.

First Page:

TREATISE ON LIGHT

In which are explained The causes of that which occurs In REFLEXION, & in REFRACTION

And particularly In the strange REFRACTION OF ICELAND CRYSTAL

by

CHRISTIAAN HUYGENS

Rendered into English by

SILVANUS P. THOMPSON

University of Chicago Press

PREFACE

I wrote this Treatise during my sojourn in France twelve years ago, and I communicated it in the year 1678 to the learned persons who then composed the Royal Academy of Science, to the membership of which the King had done me the honour of calling, me. Several of that body who are still alive will remember having been present when I read it, and above the rest those amongst them who applied themselves particularly to the study of Mathematics; of whom I cannot cite more than the celebrated gentlemen Cassini, Römer, and De la Hire. And, although I have since corrected and changed some parts, the copies which I had made of it at that time may serve for proof that I have yet added nothing to it save some conjectures touching the formation of Iceland Crystal, and a novel observation on the refraction of Rock Crystal... Continue reading book >>


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