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Conical refraction


  • Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Conical refraction (Opt) the refraction of a ray of light into an infinite number of rays, forming a hollow cone. This occurs when a ray of light is passed through crystals of some substances, under certain circumstances. Conical refraction is of two kinds; external conical refraction, in which the ray issues from the crystal in the form of a cone, the vertex of which is at the point of emergence; and internal conical refraction, in which the ray is changed into the form of a cone on entering the crystal, from which it issues in the form of a hollow cylinder. This singular phenomenon was first discovered by Sir W. R. Hamilton by mathematical reasoning alone, unaided by experiment.
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In literature:

The most famous achievement of Hamilton's earlier years at the observatory was the discovery of conical refraction.
"Great Astronomers" by R. S. Ball
He predicted "conical refraction," afterwards experimentally proved by another Irishman, Humphrey Lloyd.
"The Glories of Ireland" by Edited by Joseph Dunn and P.J. Lennox