It’s time for the A to Z Challenge! Hello and welcome to my main blog. My name is Rose Anderson and I’m a novelist. Join me and nearly 2000 bloggers and authors as we blog the alphabet throughout the month of April. It’s not as easy as you might think. There’s a reason Q and Z are worth 10 points in Scrabble!
For me, this year’s alphabet will be about history and historical science– things that tickle my fancy or capture my imagination. I hope you will find them interesting too.
Keep the topic rolling! If you’ve enjoyed the today’s offering and have comments or questions, add them at the end of the post in the comment section. And…if you enjoy romances with unique twists, a good deal of steam, facts, and characters full of personality and depth, scroll down for a free chapter sampler. I love to make the impossible sound plausible. Suffice to say, I have an unusual mind.
Today’s Calliope’s Writing Tablet post is brought to you by the letter K~ K for Kaleidoscope
I was an inquisitive child, always taking things apart to see how they worked. Sometimes I’d get lucky and I’d be able to reassemble (like the telephone) other times it was beyond my skill (like the wind-up alarm clock) I remember a particular gift— a cardboard tube with clear glass disks on the either end. It sort of looked like a spyglass. The disks were different from one another, one was large and the other was set in the center of the cardboard circle. I remember thinking it looked like a tiny ship’s porthole. When I looked inside I saw it was filled with shards of multicolored glass. Assuming it was broken, and never one to miss an opportunity to know what’s what, I began the disassemblage.
The cardboard tube held three sharp-edged mirrors nearly as long as the tube itself. (This was way back when toys regularly came with sharp edges etc and kids had to respect them or suffer cuts, pinches, and burns). These mirrors were positioned in the tube in such a way, they formed a triangle inside. The end of the tube held a small round container with a very thin and fragile glass circles set top and bottom and was partially filled with broken glass bits. Because I believed it a broken toy, I couldn’t imagine what it was before it smashed into pieces. When all was said and done, my brother eyed my exploration and asked, “Why did you break your kaleidoscope?” He sort of rebuilt it for me and I had a vague idea how it worked. The next time I saw one, I not only knew what it was, I knew what was inside.
Kaleido from the Greek kal(ós) ~meaning beautiful, and eîdo(s) ~meaning shape.
Scope from the Latin scopium ~meaning to view carefully.
Everything Starts Somewhere
Things are connected in ways that are often astounding, and common everyday things sometimes have uncommon origins. It’s true that technology is built upon observation but also by successes and failures. How interesting to know the simple kaleidoscope toy owes its existence to the Father of Optics, Ibn al-Haytham also known as Alhazen, an 11th century Arab polymath. Before his Kitab al-manazir (Book of Optics), it was commonly assumed sight had to do with light rays emitted by the eyes (like this chicken), instead of the eyes reading light waves and sending them to the brain for interpretation. Alhazen didn’t invent the kaleidoscope, he just made sense of optics–the branch of physics involving the behavior and properties of light.
Archaeological evidence shows mirrors made of volcanic glass obsidian in use 8,000 years ago, so people were working on optics a long time. This included philosophers, artists, inventors, et al. When Sir David Brewster conducted his experiments on light polarization in 1815, he looked at objects at the end of 2 mirrors and saw a curious optical effect. The patterns and colors were reformed into beautiful arrangements reminiscent of stained glass cathedral windows. Thus the kaleidoscope was conceived and named.
How does it work?
Most people know an optical infinity effect occurs when two mirrors face one another. That’s what mirrors do, they reflect. A kaleidoscope basically consists of mirrors, lenses, and bits of stuff to reflect in those mirrors. Scopes usually have two or more mirrors that run full-length inside the tube. The number and angles of these mirrors determine the number of reflections you can see. For instance if the angle is small, more reflections of the objects can be seen. Because the bits of glass or assorted objects inside the kaleidoscope, no two designs will reproduce exactly. That’s what makes them fun.
The Victorians loved their gadgets. The kaleidoscope was a very popular Victorian parlor diversion for adults and children.
Make your own! 🙂
Several different types in this collection
Who knew such a society existed? http://brewstersociety.com/
Just for fun. Move your mouse! http://inoyan.narod.ru/kaleidoskop.swf
Tomorrow ~ letter L!
TODAY~ Join me on my satellite blog http://calliopeswritingtablet.blogspot.com/
Authors’ lives outside of the books we write are often as interesting as the worlds we create. One of the more unusual things my husband and I have done was lead wild foods programs for Chicago’s Field Museum. For this 10-day event I’ll be sharing my recipes. I hope you stop by. There are lots of prizes and you might have delicious and useful ingredients waiting in your backyard. 🙂
Fantastic authors & industry representatives all month long. http://romancebooks4us.blogspot.com/
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This was very interesting. I learned something new about optics. Thank you.
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Ray. If I find something interesting but there’s too much to use in a single post, I’ll add links to more. I like to learn that way.