Today in Science History: 16th December

Bones, Ohms and Ribosomes.

1776 – Johann Ritter, discoverer of ultraviolet light, was born. Born in Silesia (now a part of Poland), Ritter was influenced by William Herschel’s 1800 discovery of infrared light, leading to his findings just a year later. He also went on to invent the dry cell battery and the first storage battery.

A little sketch to show a basic prism. A little sketch to show a basic prism.

Ritter’s experiment involved a glass prism, which refracts (bends) white light – causing it to appear to fan out into more distinct component colours. This is because as the light enters the glass it slows down, speeding back up again when it reaches the air/glass boundary on the other side. If light enters the prism at an angle, one ‘side’ of the light hits the prism first (above: the violet side), slowing down before the other ‘side’ (above: red). This, paired with the differing wavelengths (see diagram below), means that…

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