The kaleidoscope

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This book is indeed a treasure-trove of aspects of nineteenth century experimental physics. Brewster was quite a polymath: as well as undertaking wide-ranging superb experimental investigations, especially in OPTICS, he strove endlessly to improve the awareness of and support for science. The style is, of course, quite dated, but will reward the persevering reader.
It is worth mentioning here a closely-related publication: " ' Martyr of Science'; Sir David Brewster 1781-1868", ed. A D Morrison-Low and J R R Christie: Royal Scottish Museum Studies - 1984. (ISBN 0 900733 29 2) This presents the proceedings of the (Edinburgh) Brewster Bicentenary Symposium, 1981. Again, a valuable treasure-trove, with a thorough bibliography and catalogue of scientific apparatus.
I confess a personal affinity with Brewster and his Kaleidoscope: I have derived a novel and accessible visualisation of the kaleidoscope for the GENERAL dihedral (inter-mirror) angle: i.e. not just the "classic" even-aliquots of the circle. Brewster described the "ambiguity" of the final image-sets (my term) as having "an imperfect junction". In fact, the final images seen depend critically on the eye-position: the final image seen at any angular position depends on the (exit-) mirror through which it is viewed - the visible final images are in fact "selected" by the viewing position. The "odd aliquot" cases with a general object are an exquisite test of the method.
Philip Bradfield

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Page 1 - Medal, the reflectors were in some cases inclined to each other, and he had occasion to remark the circular arrangement of the images of a candle round a centre, or the multiplication of the sectors formed by the extremities of the glass plates. In repeating, at a subsequent period, the experiments of M. Biot on the action of fluids upon light, Dr B.

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