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Optical Devices and Social Networks

Optical Devices and Social Networks


(p.135) Chapter 6 Optical Devices and Social Networks
Pure Intelligence
Melvyn C. Usselman
University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes how W. H. Wollaston’s expertise in linear optics led him to design and patent in 1804 meniscus lenses for improved eye glasses which he called periscopic spectacles. He also suggested improvements to the camera lucida and microscopes that took advantage of curved lenses. He designed and patented in 1806 a novel and compact drawing aid he named a camera lucida, which was used by the sculptor Francis Chantrey to make preliminary drawings of his subjects. The device remained in wide use for sketching until well into the 20th century. The chapter also discusses Wollaston’s1805 paper on the forces of moving bodies in which he placed emphasis on the work potential of a body supplying energy to another over a finite distance. Wollaston’s move into new social and scientific networks in London, such as the Chemistry Club and the Geological Society, is described.

Keywords:   William Hyde Wollaston, meniscus lenses, periscopic spectacles, camera lucida, Francis Chantrey, bodies in motion, work potential, energy, Chemistry Club, Geological Society

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