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Unpublished paper, 'An enquiry into some of the circumstances and principles which regulate the production of pictures in the retina of the human eye, with their measure of endurance, their colour, and changes' by William Scoresby

Reference number: AP/35/1

Date: 17 November 1853 - 30 May 1854

Description

Scoresby's investigations embrace three distinct cases: the case of achromatic pictures; that of coloured pictures of uncoloured objects, derived simply or mainly from the influence of light on the eye; and that of the spectra of coloured objects, together with certain applications of the results obtained to other optical characteristics, determinations or phenomena. The general mode of experiment employed in these researches is described as 'the viewing of illuminated objects with a steady fixed gaze at a special point, and then determining the impression on the retina by examining the images developed with closed eyes'. The time of viewing the objects varied from a momentary glance up to half a minute, more rarely to a minute. The mode of eliciting the impression was, primarily, by closing the eyelids into gentlest contact, whilst the head was kept unmoved, and the eyelids steady in their original direction. Scoresby recounts the results of these experiments. He notes that in viewing impressions on the retina with closed eyes, all the pictures appear to occupy a position externally, similar to the effect when the objects are directly seen; and that the spectra derived from moderate or strong degrees of transmitted light have prevalently the character of transparency, and those from very low degrees, most ordinarily, of opacity. In a follow-up paper, dated 30 May 1854, Scoresby shares the results of his inquiries concerning phenomena in optical spectra, and the results in respect of colour in the images impressed on the retina, as derived simply from the influence of light.

Annotations in pencil and ink throughout.

Subject: Physiology / Optometry

Received 19 November 1853 / 31 May 1854.

Written by Scoresby in Torquay [Cornwall, England].

Whilst the Royal Society declined to publish this paper in full, an abstract of the paper was published in volume 6 of Abstracts of the Papers Printed in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London [later Proceedings of the Royal Society] as 'An inquiry into some of the circumstances and principles which regulate the production of pictures on the retina of the human eye, with their measure of endurance, their colours and changes' and in volume 7 of Abstracts of the Papers Printed in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London [later Proceedings of the Royal Society] as 'An inquiry into some of the circumstances and principles which regulate the production of pictures on the retina of the human eye, with their measure of endurance, their colours and changes. - Part II'.

Reference number
AP/35/1
Earliest possible date
17 November 1853 - 30 May 1854
Physical description
Ink and graphite pencil on paper
Page extent
134 pages
Format
Manuscript

Creator name

William Scoresby

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Citation

William Scoresby, Unpublished paper, 'An enquiry into some of the circumstances and principles which regulate the production of pictures in the retina of the human eye, with their measure of endurance, their colour, and changes' by William Scoresby, 17 November 1853 - 30 May 1854, AP/35/1, The Royal Society Archives, London, https://makingscience.royalsociety.org/items/ap_35_1/unpublished-paper-an-enquiry-into-some-of-the-circumstances-and-principles-which-regulate-the-production-of-pictures-in-the-retina-of-the-human-eye-with-their-measure-of-endurance-their-colour-and-changes-by-william-scoresby, accessed on 27 May 2024

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