Lord Rayleigh

Lord Rayleigh first started to research optics and vibrations. Later he decided to work in Physics researching light scattering, wave theory, electrodynamics, hydrodynamics, viscosity and photography. His work let to the discovery of resistance, current and electromotive force. During most of Rayleigh’s career he divided his time between his laboratory at Terling Place and being the Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institution. Rayleigh’s Theory of Sound was published in volume I and volume II. He had received many honors for his works. He was named Fellow of the Royal Society. He was also President and Secretary. He was the Privy Counsellor. The Royal Society gave him the Copley, Royal and Rumford medals for his Physics works. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Physics for the isolation of inert gas argon.¹

Insight and Influences

When Lord Rayleigh was growing up he wanted to learn about scientific things although he was not born in a household where his parents were scientist. He was very strong in the fields of math and science. Rayleigh was a Justice of the Peace and Chancellor of Cambridge University. The main influence in

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Lord Rayleigh’s life was George Stokes, whom was a Lucasian professor of mathematics. Later in life Rayleigh discovered what he calls Raleigh Scattering. Raleigh Scattering was evolved from reasoning why the sky is blue because of the scattering molecules. Rayleigh examined precision of electrical measures and standardized the ohm.

Major Contributions

Rayleigh thought of the Theory of Sound and how the sky is blue. In the Theory of Sound he found out that if the sound is coming from a far distance then the intensity is different than if you hear a sound from a closer distance. Another theory that Rayleigh had thought up was the Duplex Theory. This means that there are apparently two primary cues for the azimuth. Azimuth is used to define the apparent position of an object in the sky, relative to an observation point. One of the most important physics works was standardizing the ohm. Lord Rayleigh helped with the discovery of the periodic table. Along with William Ramsey, they both discovered the inert gases on the periodic table.

Affect and Effect

Lord Rayleigh was born November 12, 1842 in Langford Grove, Essex. Rayleigh went to school at Eton and Harrow but then had to leave school because he got very ill. He also went to Reverend Warner’s boarding school and this prepared him for going to a university. In 1861, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge. Rayleigh published the Theory of Sound in volumes one and two. Rayleigh was the Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institution. Rayleigh married Evelyn Balfour and they had three sons together. The oldest son was to become the Professor of Physics at Imperial College of Science and Technology. Rayleigh does not really have any political views. He was very spiritual though. He attended séances and sitting with people who claim to have psychic powers.

The Things He Left Behind

Lord Rayleigh left the legacy of figuring out why the sky is blue. If it wasn’t for him then we might not have figured out the real reason that the sky is blue. He also figured out the theory of sound and light. Lord Rayleigh used hollow tube waveguides. Hollow tube waveguides are used for the ultraviolet wavelength region laser beam incorporates a glass tube composed of glass material. This idea didn’t last long when Lord Rayleigh was around, but forty years later G.C. Southworth and W.L. Barrow discovered the same concept of using a hollow tube waveguide. Both Southworth and Barrow worked independently for almost five years and neither on of them knew that the other was working on this certain experiment.