The Discovery of the “Polarity of Light”

  • Xiang Chen
Part of the Science and Philosophy book series (SCPH, volume 9)


Although the wave theory had established its dominance by the mid 1830s, its opponents in Britain did not immediately surrender to the new orthodoxy. On the contrary, they continued to resist the wave theory. During the late 1830s and the entire 1840s, opponents of the wave theory in Britain kept throwing up all kinds of observational and experimental data that the wave theory at that time did not or apparently could not explain, initiating many debates with wave theorists, who fought hard to minimize the damage. Among these debates, perhaps the one initiated by Brewster in 1837 on the “polarity of light” was most significant, both because of its scale — it involved almost every first-rank wave theorists in Britain — and because of its duration — it lasted more than a decade, during which wave theorists failed to explain the phenomenon.


Thin Plate Wave Theory Dark Band British Association Original Emphasis 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiang Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.California Lutheran UniversityUSA

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