Robert Wood with a spectroscope, 1890s

Robert Wood with a spectroscope, 1890s

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Credit: EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES/AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Robert Wood with a spectroscope, 1890s. US physicist Robert Williams Wood (1868-1955) studied at Harvard and then did graduate work at various university in the USA. From 1894 to 1896 he worked with Heinrich Rubens at the University of Berlin, Germany. The apparatus at right is a spectroscope. The incoming light from a sample is split by a prism and the spectrum observed through the eyepiece in front of Woods. The electromagnetic radiation emitted by excited atoms and ions of a chemical element or molecule produce a characteristic spectrum. Such spectra are used to identify chemical elements, both in the laboratory and in distant stars.

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