The colour of the sea

Raman, C. V. (1921) The colour of the sea Nature, 108 (2716). p. 367. ISSN 0028-0836

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The view has been expressed that "the much-admired dark blue of the deep sea has nothing to do with the colour of water, but is simply the blue of the sky seen by reflection" (Rayleigh's Scientific Papers, vol. 5, p. 540, and Nature, vol. 83, p. 48, 1910). Whether this is really true is shown to be questionable by a simple mode of observation used by the present writer, in which surface-reflection is eliminated, and the other factors remain the same. The method is to view the surface of the water through a Nicol's prism, which may for convenience be mounted at one end of a tube so that it can be turned about its axis and pointed in any direction. Observing a tolerably smooth patch of water with this held in front of the eye at approximately the polarising angle with the surface of the sea, the reflection of the sky may be quenched by a suitable orientation of the Nicol. Then again, the sky-light on a clear day in certain directions is itself strongly polarised, and an observer standing with his back to the sun when it is fairly high up and viewing the sea will find the light reflected at all incidences sufficiently well polarised to enable it to be weakened or nearly suppressed by the aid of a Nicol.

Item Type:Article
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Deposited On:04 Aug 2011 07:28
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