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By Sean F. Johnston

It is a heritage of the hidden workings of actual technology - a technical endeavour embedded in a social context. It argues that this 'undisciplined' topic, straddling academia, trade and law, could be ordinary not just of twentieth century technological know-how, yet of its destiny.

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Extra info for A History of Light & Colour Measurement: Science in the Shadows

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30 On Herschel's novel astronomical style, see Schafer S 1981 'Uranus and the establishment of Herschel's astronomy' J. Hist. Astron. 12 11-26. 31 Michell J 1767 'An inquiry into the probable parallax, and magnitude of the fixed stars, from the quantity of light which they afford us, and the particular circumstances of their situation' Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. 57 234-45 32 Hoskin M A 1963 William Herschel and the Construction of the Heavens (London). 33 Bouguer op. cit. note 2, reported that the Swedish astronomer Celsius had used a similar method based on printed slips or black and white patterns.

2 (1962) 67-73; Arnquist W H 1959 'Survey of early infrared developments' Proc. Inst. Radio Engrs 47 1420; Love11 D J 1968 'Herschel's dilemma in the interpretation of thermal radiation' Isis 59 46-60. 36 Herschel W 1800 'Experiments on the refrangibility of the invisible rays of the sun' Light as a Law-Abiding Quantity Phil. Trans. R. Soc. 90 293. 37 Olson R E 1969 'A note on Leslies' cube in the study of radiant heat' Ann. Sci. 25 203. 38 Herschel W 1800 'Experiments on the solar, and on the terrestrial rays that occasion heat' Phil.

Could another means of measuring light replace the eye entirely? The 'human factors' in photometry were to crop up repeatedly. Intensity measurements could be perturbed not only by the vagaries of the eye, but also by those of the brain. Careful practitioners concluded that they could be misled by inadvertent prejudice, and that the matching of two lights by eye was prone to psychological bias. Probably the first investigator to voice this concern was Benjamin Thompson who, in 1794, had employed a double-blind method to avoid the problem.

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