Physicist using a spectroscope, 1929

Physicist using a spectroscope, 1929

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

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Caption: Physicist using a spectroscope. US physicist Edward J. Martin carrying out spectroscopic analysis in the 1920s. The spectroscope was first invented in 1814 by German optician Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787-1826). The electromagnetic radiation emitted by excited atoms and ions of a chemical element or molecule produce a characteristic spectrum. The incoming light from a sample is split by a prism and the spectrum observed through the eyepiece next to Martin. Such spectra are used to identify chemical elements, both in the laboratory and in distant stars. Photographed in 1929, at General Motors Laboratories in Detroit, Michigan, USA.

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