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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/405

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THE HISTORY OF A DOCTRINE.

helps us to remember that, as the visible and apparently simple emanation of light is found to have its colors, so radiant heat, the invisible but apparently simple emanation, has what would be colors to an eye that could see them. This result is well known in connection with Melloni.

The other and the greater, which is not generally known as Melloni's, is the generalization that heat and light are effects of one and the same thing, and merely different manifestations of it. I translate this important statement as closely as possible from his own words. They are that "Light is merely a series of calorific indications sensible to the organs of sight, or Vice Versa, the radiations of obscure heat are veritable invisible radiations of light." The italics and the capitals are Melloni's own. He wishes to have no ambiguity about his announcement behind which he may take shelter; and he had so firm a grasp of the great principle that, when his first attempts to observe the heat of the moon failed, he persevered, because this principle assured him that where there was light there must be heat. This statement was made in 1843, and ought, I think, to insure to Melloni the honor of being the first to distinctly announce this great principle. The announcement passed apparently unnoticed, in spite of his acknowledged authority; and the general belief not merely in different entities in the spectrum, but in a material caloric, continued as strong as ever. If you want to see what a hold on life error has, and how hard it dies, turn to the article "Heat," in the eighth edition of the "Encyclopædia Britannica," where you will find the old doctrine of caloric still in possession of the field in 1853; and still later, in the generally excellent "English Encyclopædia" (edition of 1867), the doctrine of caloric is, on the whole, preferred to the undulatory hypothesis. It is very probable that a searcher might find many traces of it yet lingering among us; so that Giant Caloric is not, perhaps, even yet quite dead, though certainly grown so crazy, and stiff in the joints, that he can now harm pilgrims no more.

So far as I know, no physicist of eminence reasserted Melloni's principle till J. W. Draper, in 1872. Only sixteen years ago, or in 1872, it was almost universally believed that there were three different entities in the spectrum, represented by actinic, luminous, and thermal rays. Draper remarks that a ray consists solely of ethereal vibrations whose lost vis viva may produce either heat or chemical change. He uses Descartes's analogy of the vibration of the air, and sound; but he makes no mention either of Descartes or of Melloni, and speaks of the principle as leading to a modification of views then "universally" held. Since that time the theory has made such rapid progress that, though some of the older men in England and on the European continent have not