Michelson A. A. Light waves and their uses (1903)

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Light Waves as S¥&1»S*tf^oF Length 99

ters obtainable were placed in the instrument, and the thermometers themselves were carefully tested, their errors determined, and other well-known precautions taken. In this way the temperature at which the intermediate standard No. 9 contains the number of waves given above was determined to within one-hundredth of a degree.

The final step in the process is the comparison of the decimeter standard with the standard meter. This is a comparatively simple affair. In fact, it is exactly the same as the comparison of the first intermediate standard with the second, except that the second standard is now ten times as long —which necessitates going through the process ten times instead of twice.

Since in this case also we use the fringes for determining when one end of the standard and the reference plane are in the same plane, the error, as before stated, may be as small as one-twentieth of a wave; so that all the errors added together would be of the order of one-half of a wave, or one quarter of a micron.

The conditions which had to be fulfilled by the instrument which was used for this purpose are, then, these: We have, in the first place, to provide for the displacement of the intermediate standard and of the reference plane in such a way that the parallelism of the mirrors is not disturbed. This necessitates that the wavs along which the carriage

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supporting the mirrors moves be exceedingly true. It took a whole month to perform this part of the work — to get the ways so nearly true that there should be no change in the position of the fringes as the mirrors were moved back and forth. In the second place, we must be able to know the position of the mirrors inside of the box which is placed over the instrument to protect it from temperature changes. To secure this, the carriage which holds the mirrors must be moved by means of a long screw carefully calibrated to


Light Waves and Their Uses

within two microns or so. In the third place, since there will be slight displacements, owing to the impossibility of getting the ways absolutely true, it must be possible to correct these displacements. The adjustments for effecting this are shown in Fig. 71. Fourth, we must have a firm support for the longer of the two standards to be compared,

FIG. 73

and a movable support, which moves parallel with itself, for the shorter standard.

The last standard, the auxiliary meter, has to be compared with the standard meter itself, and, therefore, the two must be of similar construction. In other words, in this last comparison we have to resort to the microscope again. For the meter bar which we had in the interferometer itself had two lines upon it as nearly as possible one meter apart, as determined by a rough comparison with the prototype meter. The standard No. 9 had to be compared with this. For this purpose an arm which had a fine mark on it was rigidly fastened to the standard No. 9, and arranged to come in the focus of the microscope. In making this comparison, we must admit, the order of accuracy is not so great.