1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Calorescence

CALORESCENCE (from the Lat. calor, heat), a term invented by John Tyndall to describe an optical phenomenon, the essential feature of which is the conversion of rays belonging to the dark infra-red portion of the spectrum into the more refrangible visible rays, i.e. heat rays into rays of light. Such a transformation had not previously been observed, although the converse phenomenon, i.e. the conversion of short waves of light into longer or less refrangible waves, had been shown by Sir G. G. Stokes to occur in fluorescent bodies. Tyndall’s experiments, however, were carried out on quite different lines, and have nothing to do with fluorescence (q.v.). His method was to sift out the long dark waves which are associated with the short visible waves constituting the light of the sun or of the electric arc and to concentrate the former to a focus. If the eye was placed at the focus, no sensation of light was observed, although small pieces of charcoal or blackened platinum foil were immediately raised to incandescence, thus giving rise to visible rays.

The experiment is more easily carried out with the electric light than with sunlight, as the former contains a smaller proportion of visible rays. According to Tyndall, 90% of the radiation from the electric arc is non-luminous. The arc being struck in the usual way between two carbons, a concave mirror, placed close behind it, caused a large part of the radiation to be directed through an aperture in the camera and concentrated to a focus outside. In front of the aperture were placed a plate of transparent rock-salt, and a flat cell of thin glass containing a solution of iodine in carbon bisulphide. Both rock-salt and carbon bisulphide are extremely transparent to the luminous and also to the infra-red rays The iodine in the solution, however, has the property of absorbing the luminous rays, while transmitting the infra-red rays copiously, so that in sufficient thicknesses the solution appears nearly black. Owing to the inflammable nature of carbon bisulphide, the plate of rock-salt was found to be hardly a sufficient protection, and Tyndall surrounded the iodine cell with an annular vessel through which cold water was made to flow. Any small body which was a good absorber of dark rays was rapidly heated to redness when placed at the focus. Platinized platinum (platinum foil upon which a thin film of platinum had been deposited electrolytically) and charcoal were rendered incandescent, black paper and matches immediately inflamed, ordinary brown paper pierced and burned, while thin white blotting-paper, owing to its transparency to the invisible rays, was scarcely tinged. A simpler arrangement, also employed by Tyndall, is to cause the rays to be reflected outwards parallel to one another, and to concentrate them by means of a small flask, containing the iodine solution and used as a lens, placed some distance from the camera. The rock-salt and cold water circulation can then be dispensed with.

Since the rays used by Tyndall in these experiments are similar to those emitted by a heated body which is not hot enough to be luminous, it might be thought that the radiation, say from a hot kettle, could be concentrated to a focus and employed to render a small body luminous. It would, however, be impossible by such means to raise the receiving body to a higher temperature than the source of radiation. For it is easy to see that if, by means of lenses of rock-salt or mirrors, we focused all or nearly all the rays from a small surface on to another surface of equal area, this would not raise the temperature of the second surface above that of the first; and we could not obtain a greater concentration of rays from a large heated surface, since we could not have all parts of the surface simultaneously in focus. The desired result could be obtained if it were possible, by reflection or otherwise, to cause two different rays to unite without loss and pursue a common path. Such a result must be regarded as impossible of attainment, as it would imply the possibility of heat passing from one body to another at a higher temperature, contrary to the second law of thermodynamics (q.v.). Tyndall used the dark rays from a luminous source, which are emitted in a highly concentrated form, so that it was possible to obtain a high temperature, which was, however, much lower than that of the source.

A full account of Tyndall’s experiments will be found in his Heat, a Mode of Motion.  (J. R. C.)