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قراءة كتاب Scientific American, Volume XXXVI., No. 8, February 24, 1877 A Weekly Journal of Practical Information, Art, Science, Mechanics, Chemistry, and Manufactures.

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‏اللغة: English
Scientific  American, Volume XXXVI., No. 8, February 24, 1877
A Weekly Journal of Practical Information, Art, Science,
Mechanics, Chemistry, and Manufactures.

Scientific American, Volume XXXVI., No. 8, February 24, 1877 A Weekly Journal of Practical Information, Art, Science, Mechanics, Chemistry, and Manufactures.

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 7

Charlemagne, when the workmen had lost their cunning, and the noble metal had been altogether debased to secondary uses.

The second instance where a lost art is exemplified in Signor Castellani's collection is in the glazing of the Gubbio majolica. We have not space here to review the magnificent series of ancient specimens of pottery in detail; and thus it will suffice to say that, beginning with some of the earliest pieces made by the Arabs when they occupied Sicily, from the twelfth to the sixteenth century, the collection presents examples of all the finest types of later mediæval art. Gubbio, where the peculiar kind of majolica above noted was made, is a small town once in the territory of the dukes of Urbino; and in the sixteenth century it became famous for its pottery. This was attributable to the talent of one man, Giorgio Andreoli, who is reputed to have invented the wonderful luster characteristic of the Gubbio ware. The body of majolica is mere common clay; and after the piece is finished on the wheel, it is dried and burnt in a furnace. After the biscuit thus prepared has been dipped in the glaze, the colors are applied on the soft surface of the latter, and the vitrifying process fuses all into a glossy enamel of the color of the pigment. This is still the common practice; and we mention it merely to show that to his pigment and glaze Andreoli must have added some third substance, which rendered the enamel capable of reflecting white light as blue, red, green, or yellow light—in other words, of giving the object a luster of a color wholly different from the tints of the pigment. He evidently could produce any desired color at will, and the effects gained are indescribably beautiful. The Castellani collection contains 130 superb specimens, which glow like jewels. In one, the scene of the nativity of Christ is provided with the figures in low relief, and the exquisite cerulean lustre is imparted to give the effect of moonlight. The rarest pieces are those of which the luster is a delicate green. Some blaze with yellow, as if of gold; others exhibit the brilliancy of the ruby; while others resemble the interior of the pearl oyster shell. Whether this sheen is produced by polarization of the light in some manner, or whether it is at all analogous to fluorescence, is yet to be decided. The impression of the surface with fine microscopic lines might produce an iridescence, but not separate and clearly defined hues. The ware was intended for ornamental purposes, not for household use; and it was suspended against the rich, dark tapestries of the period with which walls were covered, thus aiding, as it were, in illuminating the apartment with its exquisite radiance.


On September 26, 1871, General A.J. Pleasonton, of Philadelphia, Pa., obtained a patent for "utilizing the natural light of the sun transmitted through clear glass, and the blue or electric(!) solar rays transmitted through blue, purple, or violet colored glass, or its equivalent, in the propagation and growth of plants and animals." In his specification, of which the above constitutes one claim, he states that he has discovered "special and specific efficacy in the use of this combination of the caloric rays of the sun and the electric blue light in stimulating the glands of the body, the nervous system generally, and the secretive organs of man and animals." He also states that he finds that vegetation is vastly improved by the transmitted blue light. These alleged re-discoveries—for the General only claims to have devised the method of utilizing them—were extensively promulgated through the press early in 1871. Subsequently, in 1876, General Pleasonton published a book on the subject, the volume being appropriately bound in blue and printed in blue ink. Recently public attention has again been called to the subject by a New York daily journal. The peculiar kind of glass in question is known as "pot metal blue," that is, it is stained a bluish violet throughout, and is not clear glass covered with flashings of blue glass. It is used in greenhouses, etc., in connection with clear glass; and in General Pleasonton's grapery it appears that only every eighth row of panes was blue. Some of the results alleged to have been obtained by exposing animals and plants are as follows: Twenty grape vines, in their second year, after being set out under the blue glass, bore 1,200 lbs. of splendid fruit. A very weak Alderney bull calf was in four months developed into a strong and vigorous bull. Heifers when kept under blue glass may safely bear young when 18 months old. A weak child, weighing but 3½ lbs. at birth, weighed at the end of four months 22 lbs.—the light in this instance having come through blue curtains. Two major-generals with rheumatism were cured in three days. A young lady whose hair had come out regained her tresses; and to these must be added various other cures of severe ailments which we have not space here to recapitulate. The above are the alleged facts; and we propose to consider the supposed discovery in the light of previous investigations.

With reference to the theories of electricity, etc., advanced by General Pleasonton to account for his phenomena, their absurdity is so complete that we shall waste no time over them. The important question in the matter, and the only one in which the public is interested, is whether or not blue glass is capable of producing all or any of the results imputed to its use. In order to clear the way for the examination of the investigations, the records of which we have carefully collected, let us consider first those which General Pleasonton quotes in support of his views. These are (1) Seunebier's researches, which go to show that the blue and violet rays are the most active in determining the decomposition of carbonic acid in plants, and (2) experiments of Dr. Morichini, repeated by Carpa and Ridolfi, proving that violet rays magnetized a small needle. The first statement has been totally disproved. Dr. Von Bezold, in his recent work on color, states that "the chemical processes in plants, as far as they are dependent upon light, are principally caused by the rays of medium and of lower refrangibility. The development of the green color of the chlorophyll, the decomposition of carbonic acid, as well as the formation of starch, etc., in the grains of the chlorophyll, are induced by the red, green, and orange rays." The blue, violet, and ultra violet rays, the same authority goes onto explain, influence "the rapidity of growth, compel the so-called zoöspores to move in certain directions, and alter the positions of leaves, etc." In confirmation of this, we have Sach's experiments in 1872, which show that light, transmitted through the yellow solution of potassium chromate, enables green leaves to decompose over 88 per cent. of carbonic acid; while that passed through blue ammonia copper oxide decomposes less than 8 per cent. This proves the superiority of the yellow ray to decompose carbonic acid; and this fact Professor J.W. Draper discovered a long time ago by the direct use of the spectrum. In still further confirmation, we may cite the investigations of Vogel, Pfeiffer, Selim, and Placentim. The last three have conducted researches in full knowledge of those of General Pleasonton, and their experiments show that yellow rays are more promotive of the evolution of carbon in animals and its absorption in plants than any others in the spectrum, the violet rays having least power in these respects, with the exception of the red rays in the case of animals. The absorption of carbonic acid by plants, and its evolution by animals, we hardly need add, are prime essentials to the growth and health of each. The notion that light possesses a magnetizing power on steel was upset by Niepce de St. Victor in 1861. After removing every source of error, he "found it impossible to make one sewing needle, solarized for a very long time under the rays of light concentrated by a strong lens, attract another suspended by a hair, whether