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Analogy of Colour and Music—Supernumerary Rainbows


IN what I saw of a recent discussion in your paper as to the analogy between the colours of light and musical notes, I did not observe any reference made to an analogy on this subject, published, I believe, in 1845, by Prof. Mossotti, of Pisa. The analogy is pointed out at the end of a paper concerning the diffraction spectrum. This spectrum, the disposition of the colours in which depends solely on the wave-lengths, has its point of maximum brightness in the middle, which in this spectrum is occupied by a shade of colour rather nearer to the line E than D. Fig. 1 represents the positions of the lines in the diffraction spectrum; and fig. 2 represents the spectrum formed by refraction through a certain flint glass prism which belonged to Fraunhoffer. The ordinate of the curve which is drawn above each spectrum represents the intensity of the light at each place of that spectrum. The curve drawn above fig. 2 is that due to Fraunhoffer's actual observations with the prism above referred to. The intensity of the light in the neighbourhood of the principal lines is given by him by the following numbers:—

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STUART, J. Analogy of Colour and Music—Supernumerary Rainbows. Nature 1, 406 (1870).

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