Fraunhofer Lines

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Scientific discoveries never come from nowhere. In a letter to Robert Hooke, Isaac newton said “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” What he meant by that was that all of his discoveries were based upon earlier ones. This is true for all discoveries. Everything we know today, we know because someone before us discovered something that led to our modern discoveries. Before that person was another, and another, and another. In 1813, a man named Joseph von Fraunhofer discovered strange lines in the spectrum coming from a prism. He was building on the optical work of Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton. His discovery would later lead to the work of men such as Robert Bunsen and Niels Bohr. The discovery of Fraunhofer lines was based on earlier work in the field of optics, and lead to many discoveries in astronomy, chemistry, and physics.
In 1604, Johannes Kepler published the book Astronomiae Pars Optica. The book has been considered by many to be the basis of all modern optics. In his research, Kepler discovered many of the fundamental principles of optics (Molecular Expressions). He discovered how the eye bends light in order to form an image. He was one of the first people to use a pinhole camera to study how images are formed, and how the camera causes the image to form upside-down. He further discussed inverted images in another book, Dioptrice (Kepler). He also discussed how magnification worked, figuring out how telescopes work. Sadly, Johannes Kepler died in 1630. However, his writings on optics laid the foundation for all the work that would come after him.
More than 50 years after the publication of Astronomiae Pars Optica, another man was carrying on Kepler’s work in the field of optics....

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...Optica and Dioptrice, laying the groundwork for all future optical discoveries to come. After him came Newton, who questioned the commonly held belief about light and discovered a fundamental property of how light worked and what prisms did. Fraunhofer had spent his whole life working with the same optical principles as Kepler. He performed the same experiment as Newton, but he explored further, and opened up whole new worlds of discovery. Today, we still use spectroscopy and Fraunhofer lines to determine what far off planets and stars are made of, and if it would be possible for life to exist on them. Thanks to the discovery of Fraunhofer lines, Niels Bohr was able to come up with his model of the atom, expanding our knowledge of how the universe works. All of these scientific discoveries were built on top of one another, and who knows what we will discover next?

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