Since the curious nature of the results obtained, as I believe, by heat radiations, have been supposed by some to belong to the same class of phenomena as those we have particularly under consideration, I am induced to introduce the subject in this treatise on photography, merely reprinting my original communication on the subject, as the investigations have not been continued.
The Journal of the Academy of Sciences of Paris, for the 18th of July, 1842, contained a communication made by M. Regnault from M. Moser, of Königsberg, " Sur la Formation des Images Daguerriennes;" * in which he announced the fact, that "when two bodies are sufficiently near, they impress their images upon each other" The Journal of the 29th of August contained a second communication from M. Moser, in which the results of his researches are summed up in twenty-six paragraphs. From these I select the following, which alone are to be considered on the present occasion:-
" 9. All bodies radiate light even in complete darkness.
"10. This light does not appear to be allied to phosphorescence, for there is no difference perceived whether the bodies have been long in the dark, or whether they have been just exposed to daylight, or even to direct solar light.
"11. Two bodies constantly impress their images on each other, even in complete darkness.
" 14. However, for the image to be appreciable, it is necessary, because of the divergence of the rays, that the distance of the bodies should not be very considerable.
" 15. To render the image visible, the vapour of water, mercury, iodine, etc., may be used.
" 17. There exists latent light as well as latent heat." The announcement at a meeting of the British Association of these discoveries, naturally excited a more than ordinary degree of interest. A discovery of this kind, changing, as it did, the features, not only of the theories of light adopted by philosophers, but also the commonly received opinions of mankind, was more calculated to awaken attention than anything which has been brought before the public since the publication of Daguerre's beautiful photographic process. Having instituted a series of experiments, the results of which appear to prove that these phenomena are not produced by latent light, I am desirous of recording them.
* Comptes Rendus, tome xv., No. 3, folio 119.
I would not be understood as denying the absorption of light by bodies; of this I think we have abundant proof, and it is a matter well deserving attention. If we pluck a nasturtium when the sun is shining brightly on the flower, and carry it into a dark room, we shall still be enabled to see it by the light which it emits.
The human hand will sometimes exhibit the same phenomenon, and many other instances might be adduced in proof of the absorption of light; and I believe, indeed, of the principle that light is latent in bodies. I have only to show that the conclusions of M. Moser have been formed somewhat hastily, being led, no doubt, by the striking similarity which exists between the effects produced on the daguerreotype plates under the influence of light, and by the juxtaposition of bodies in the dark, to consider them as the work of the same element.
1. Dr. Draper, in the Philosophical Magazine for September 1840, mentions a fact which has been long known,—" That if a piece of very cold clear glass, or, what is better, a cold polished metallic reflector, has a little object, such as a piece of metal, laid on it, and the surface be breathed over once, the object being then carefully removed, as often as you breath on it again, a spectral image of it may be seen, and this phenomenon may be exhibited for many days after the first trial is made." Several other similar experiments are mentioned, all of them going to show that some mysterious molecular change has taken place on the metallic surface, which occasions it to condense vapours unequally.
2. On repeating this simple experiment, I find that it is necessary for the production of a good effect to use dissimilar metals; for instance, a piece of gold or platina on a plate of copper or of silver will make a very decided image, whereas copper or silver on their respective plates gives but a very faint one, and bodies which are bad conductors of heat, placed on good conductors, make decidedly the strongest impressions when thus treated.
3. I placed upon a well-polished copper plate a sovereign, a shilling, a large silver medal, and a penny. The plate was gently warmed by passing a spirit-lamp along its under surface : when cold, the plate was exposed to the vapour of mercury: each piece had made its impression, but those made by the gold and the large medal were more distinct; not only was the disc marked, but the lettering on each was copied.
4. A bronze medal was supported upon slips of wood, placed on the copper, one-eighth of an inch above the plate. After mercurialization, the space the medal covered was well marked, and, for a considerable distance around, the mercury was unequally deposited, giving a shaded border to the image ; the spaces touched by the mercury [?] were thickly covered with the vapour.
5. The above coins and medals were all placed on the plate, and it was made too hot to be handled, and allowed to cool without their being removed ; impressions were made on the plate in the following order of intensity,—gold, silver, bronze, copper. The mass of the metal was found to influence materially the result; a large piece of copper making a better image than a small piece of silver. When this plate was exposed to vapour, the results were as before. On rubbing off the vapour, it was found that the gold and silver had made permanent impressions on the copper.
6. The above being repeated with a still greater heat, the image of the copper coin was, as well as the others, most faithfully given, but the gold and silver only made permanent impressions.