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Description

Nicol prism, analysing prism made of two pieces of Iceland spar (trigonal crystal calcite) cemented together with Canada balsam, the prism makes use of the double refracting qualities of Iceland spar to form an optical filter for polarising light, by William Nicol, Edinburgh, Scotland, circa 1850

Museum reference

T.1856.54

Collection

History of Science

Object name

Nicol prism

Production information

Nicol, William 1770 - 1851, Geologist, lecturer and inventor
Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, EUROPE

Date

c. 1850

Materials

Iceland spar, Canada balsam

Exhibitions

  • Treasured: Wonderful Things, Amazing Stories (14 Nov 2008 - 01 Jan 2011)
    National Museum of Scotland

  • Shaping Our World (29 Jul 2011 - 03 Aug 2014)
    National Museum of Scotland

References

Morrison-Low, A.D. & Christie, J.R.R. (eds.), Martyr of Science: Sir David Brewster 1781-1868. Edinburgh: 1984, p 86-7

Nicol, W., On a method of so far increasing the divergence of the two rays in calcareous spar, that only one image may be seen at a time, Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal 7 (1829), pp 83-4

Morrison-Low, A.D., William Nicol, FRSE, c1771-1851 Lecturer, Scientist and Collector, Book of the Old Edinburgh Club, new series, 2 (1992), pp 123-31

On display

National Museum Of Scotland »
Level 5 »
Science And Technology, Enquire

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