1827 __ Kaleidophone
‣ Comment : In 1827, Wheatstone introduced his 'kaleidoscope,' a device for rendering the vibrations of a sounding body apparent to the eye. It consists of a metal rod, carrying at its end a silvered bead, which reflects a 'spot' of light. As the rod vibrates the spot is seen to describe complicated figures in the air, like a spark whirled about in the darkness. His photometer was probably suggested by this appliance. It enables two lights to be compared by the relative brightness of their reflections in a silvered bead, which describes a narrow ellipse, so as to draw the spots into parallel lines. (John Munro) — Wheatstone made a elaborate device with rotating sectors for viewing pitures, the parts of which were successively exposed. Wheatstone's concerns whith visual persistence were stimulated by his researches in acoustics, and particularly by Young's descriptions of vibrating piano strings. The device of Wheatstone was called "kaleidophone". — after Brewster's kaleidoscope; whereas the latter created beautiful forms based on visual components, the former did so on the basis of acoustic components. Metal rods of different cross-section and shape could be set in bibration and their extremities passed through the patchs depicted. While the kaleidoscope took the popular imagination by storm, it remained an instrument of amusement rather than science. At the beginning of the nineteenth century a bewildering variety of such philosophical toys was produced, and visual persistence was a prime phenomenon incorporated in them. There were three ways in which this was achieved. First, by rendering visible changing patterns of stimulation during continuous viewing, as in the kaleidophone. Second, by brief presentation of parts of a single figure, as in Wheatstone's rotating sectors. Third, by successive stimulation of slightly different figures. It is the last that had the greatest impact on visual science. In the second case, an aperture moved in front of a scene or picture. (Nicholas Wade) — Considering Wheatstone's upbringing, it is not surprising that his first scientific interests and patents were to do with sound. In 1825 Wheatstone demonstrated his kaleidophone. The kaleidophone is a metal rod with a bead attached. When the rod is struck, the vibrations carry the bead along giving a visual perception of the movement of sound. In 1827 Wheatstone published a paper on the kaleidophone called "Description of the Kaleidophone or Phonic Kaleidoscope: a new Philosophical Toy, for the Illustration of Several Interesting and Amusing Acoustical and Optical Phenomena". He was influenced by Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladini (1756-1827) and in 1833 he wrote a memoir on Chladni's figures, "On the Figures obtained by strewing Sand on Vibrating Surfaces, commonly called Acoustic Figures". In this paper he shows how the curves of vibrations can be predicted. Wheatstone worked on the premise that sound is like light and can be refracted and polarised. (Shelley de Kock).
‣ French comment : Physicien anglais, né à Gloucester en 1802, mort à Paris en 1875. Il était commis chez son oncle, fabricant et marchand d'instruments de musique, lorsqu'il publia, en 1823, de curieuses expériences sur le son. Il hérita de l'affaire et, en 1829, inventa le concertina ( une variété d'accordéon ). Il s'occupa ensuite de la résonance des colonnes d'air, de la transmission des sons dans les conducteurs solides linéaires (1831), et construisit une machine parlante. En 1834 il fut nommé professeur au King's College de Londres, mais abandonna sa chaire au bout de quelques années. En 1834 il publia ses expériences sur la vitesse de l'électricité. En 1837 il exposa, dans le Quarterly Journal of Science, de nouvelles expériences sur le son, et la description d'un appareil ingénieux : le kaléidoscope phonique, qui devint le point de départ de l'acoustique optique. L'année suivante, il inventait le stéréoscope, perfectionné depuis par Brewster. Le 1er février 1838, il prenait à Londres un brevet constatant sa découverte du télégraphe électrique à cadran. Depuis cette époque, sa presque constante préoccupation fut d'améliorer la télégraphie et ses applications.Il inventa également le cryptographe indéchiffrable, permettant de rendre les dépêches secrètes, et le télégraphe écrivant (1869). (Compiled from various sources)
‣ Source : Munro, John (1891), “Heroes of the Telegraph”, Published by BiblioBazaar, 2008, Chapter 1, p. 23, and Published by Icon Group International Inc (Webster’s French Thesaurus Edition), p. 15.
‣ Source : Wade, Nicholas J. (2000), “A Natural History of Vision”, MIT Press, pp. 193-194.
‣ Urls : http://www.worldwideschool.org/library/books/tech/engineering/HeroesoftheTelegraph/chap2.html (last visited ) http://www.kcl.ac.uk/depsta/iss/library/speccoll/host/wheatstone.html (last visited )
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