Prisms are interesting: White light moves in, and a rainbow appears out. However, for a very long time, communities assumed that the prism was in some way producing these colors. It wasn’t till Isaac Newton’s experiments that we realized that the colors of the rainbow truly come from the white light itself. Newton coined the phrase “spectrum” to consult with the breakdown of particular person parts of a given light supply: how a lot blue mild it incorporates, how a lot pink, how a lot yellow, and so forth.
However, in previous centuries, light sources had been fairly exhausting to come back by, and early scientists had actually solely two sources accessible: the sun and fireplace. Within the mid-1800s, a physicist named Joseph von Fraunhofer determined to play just a little recreation of examination and distinction with these sources.
Utilizing the very best dang prisms he may design (ones that had been free from defects and impurities), he, in contrast, daylight to gentle from a flame, discovering some shocking variations. Most notably, he discovered that the solar spectrum options lots of slim, darkish bands scattered throughout it. Regardless of what the solar was fabricated from, it was completely different than a fireplace.
Fraunhofer went on to excellent a completely important piece of expertise, generally known as a diffraction grating, which is a tiny display screen with thousands of parallel slits designed into it. Light passing through it means of these slits separates into its element colors, producing a spectrum on the opposite facet, precisely like a prism, however of a lot better high quality.
A number of a long time later, a few chemists, named Gustav Kirchhoff and Robert Bunsen, started systematically analyzing the spectra of assorted elements by dropping the substances into flames (utilizing Bunsen’s eponymous burner).
The two scientists discovered one thing completely stunning: Every aspect had its distinct personal spectrum, fully distinguishable from the spectrum of another factor. Bunsen and Kirchoff realized they might use spectra to determine the weather and molecules they studied.