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J. Perelman
"Entertaining physics". Book 1.
Chapter 8. Reflection and refraction of light


Anyone know of a good toy, called kaleidoscope: a handful of colorful shards reflected in two or three flat mirrors and forms a remarkably beautiful figure, variously changing at the slightest turn of the kaleidoscope. Although the kaleidoscope rather well-known, few people even know what a huge number of various shapes can be obtained with its help. Suppose you are holding a kaleidoscope with 20 slides and 10 times per minute, turn it to get the new location of the reflected glass. How long will it take you to review all of the resulting figure?

The most ardent imagination will not provide the correct answer to this question. The oceans will dry up and the mountain will be erased before being exhausted all the patterns, miraculously hidden inside your little toys, because for all they will need at least 500000 million years. More than five hundred million millennia need to rotate our kaleidoscope to review all of his designs!


Infinitely varied, ever-changing kaleidoscope patterns long been interested in decorators-painters, a fantasy which cannot compete with the inexhaustible ingenuity of this device. Kaleidoscope creates sometimes the patterns are striking beauty that can serve as an excellent motives for patterns on the Wallpaper, for patterns on various fabrics, etc.

But in the General public, the kaleidoscope does not cause the lively interest with which he met was a hundred years ago, when he was still a novelty. It was praised in prose and verse.

The kaleidoscope was invented in England in 1816, and after a year and a half has already penetrated into Russia, where he was greeted with admiration. Fabulist A. Izmailov in the journal “well-intentioned” (July 1818) wrote about the kaleidoscope in the following expressions:

“After reading the announcement of the kaleidoscope,
Get this wonderful instrument -
Watch and well in my eyes?
In different shapes and stars
Sapphires, yakhonta, Topaz,
And emeralds, and diamonds,
And amethysts, and pearls,
And mother of pearl - see all of a sudden!
Just making a hand movement -
And new in the eyes of the phenomenon!

Not only in poetry, but in prose it is impossible to describe what I see in a kaleidoscope. The shape is changing with every movement of his arms and one on another is not suitable. What wonderful patterns! Oh, if you could embroider them on canvas! But where to get such bright silk? Here are the most pleasant experience from idleness and boredom. It is far better to look into the kaleidoscope, rather than to decompose grandpass.

Claim that kaleidoscope was known in the seventeenth century. Now he recently renewed and improved in England, and from there two months ago moved to France. One of the local rich ordered a kaleidoscope of 20,000 francs. Instead of colored glass and beads he ordered to put the pearls and precious stones”.

Next fabulist tells a funny anecdote about kaleidoscope and, finally, concludes the article melancholy remark, it is extremely typical for the era of serfdom and backwardness:

“Known for its excellent optical instruments Imperial physico-mechanic Raspini makes and sells kaleidoscopes 20 rubles Without a doubt much more will be on them hunters, rather than physical I chemical lectures, from which - unfortunately and surprisingly - well-intentioned Mr. Rosmini were not themselves benefit.

Long kaleidoscope remained no more than an interesting toy and only today has been a good use for making patterns. Invented the device, which allows you to photograph a kaleidoscopic patterns and, thus, mechanically to come up with all sorts of ornaments.

Entertaining physics J. Perelman


System Orphus


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