Friday, 30 December 2016

Fine Threads of Quartz (1890)


Fine experimental physicists are woefully under appreciated. In a science that is now dominated by fearsomely mathematical and abstract frameworks it is easy to forget that the outstanding breakthroughs of this science have been driven as much by exquisite experimental invention as mathematical pyrotechnics. 

This paper from 1890 is a superb descripton of the experiments that the British scientist Sir Charles Vernon Boys (1855-1944) performed more than 125 years ago - using a small pine cross-bow to drag small blobs of molten quartz into fibres that were well below the resolving power of a light microscope. As well as being a Fellow of the Royal Society, C.V. Boys was renowned for his manual dexterity in his public demonstrations of his experiments, and for his sense of humour as a practical joker.

The image above is a summary of this work and HERE is the full paper. 

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